You heard him perform it live at the 3rd year anniversary, now own a piece of Redshape at home. His sophomore album 'Square' continues in the vein of his elegant yet rugged house/techno, orchestrated in outer-space, future-baroque tones and percussive layers.
Faceless techno bollocks. In 2010, Richard Brophy wrote this bit of a primer on the resurgence of ‘anonymous' producers, striving to re-establish focus on the “music and not (their) personalities”, in the same way that founding fathers like Underground Resistance and Basic Channel did. Now letting their music speak for itself is all well and good - up to the point of what the article counters as “anti-marketing marketing”, an idea mooted by technoscribe Dan Sicko along with his discussion of UR’s mysterious image as a strong selling point.
This ‘mysterious image’ is, paradoxically, the problem here. It leads to focus being split between music and the mystery of anything from folkloric backstories and bizarre press shots to stage costumes and of course, masks. The donning of a disguise is the staging of personality, and when rendered iconic, becomes less anonymous than a human face. The overall effect goes deeper than mere curiosity. Do masks provide the veneer of music vigilantism? Lend themselves to cultish, unthinking adulation? Or more alarmingly, grant the musician immunity to works of poor quality?
Quality, most thankfully, stands the true test of time. Think the inimitable Daft Punk - or abominable Bloody Beetroots. Only one of the duos will be remembered for a very long time - that much is clear. Still under contention, however, are a host of present-day figures including SBTRKT, Rivet, um, Deadmau5, and of more immediate concern here/soon, Redshape.
He of the crimson camouflage, so often deferred to by reviewers as a ‘masked marauder/crusader’, has endured a little longer than his contemporaries, having debuted in 2006 with a heavily Detroit/Carl Craig-indebted modus operandi. Square marks Redshape’s sophomore LP effort, and continues in the vein of his elegant yet rugged house/techno, orchestrated in outer-space, future-baroque tones and percussive layers.
Redshape’s ideas are at their most scattered and wide-ranging here, but as per techno convention, this remains an album of alternately club-ready and bedroom material. The ambient segues, however, are where things get interesting. Short as they are, ‘Landing’ and ‘Departing’ provide Square's real moments of escapism, transcending their filmic, interstellar nuances to reach deep into cerebral recesses, evoking the best of The Black Dog and Vangelis while at it.
Speaking of astral travels, Spaceape, also known as Kode9’s comrade in sonic warfare, shows up toasting doom on the lumbering half-step swerve of ‘Until We Burn’. It’s a pleasant surprise, if a little manufactured for ‘bass music’ relevance circa 2012. A typical case of Redshaped unorthodoxy? Most likely, seeing how the album closer that follows soon after is vintage him in every sense of the word. ‘The Playground (Square Version)’ is a refix of one of his very first tracks, and replaces the computer engineered elements from 2006 with full-bodied live instrumentation. It’s still a mover, though, and seems to signify that all wormholes and hyperdrives lead back to the dancefloor.
Taken together, Square represents yet another meticulous creation by the German enigma - albeit already outed as one Sebastian Kramer of early 2000s hard-looped techno. He’s done plenty to shake off his past and prove the myriad capabilities of the genre, and we’re thoroughly convinced - but by the music or by the mask? Never mind the bollocks, here’s another step to a bona fide legacy.