- He may not be the flashiest producer around, but among lovers of analog-based techno and electro, Pittsburgh's Shawn Rudiman is deeply respected. First attaining a certain level of notoriety via his work in the duo THD (Total Harmonic Distortion), he came into his own in the late '90s when he began releasing music as tough as it was intimate. Rudiman has apparently long sat on a treasure trove of unreleased material from that time, crates of tapes and CDRs just waiting for a chance to shine. He's now in the process of taking the best of that backlog and putting it out himself. The first batch, covering productions from 1999 to 2004, has just come out as Synthdrome Vault Archives #1, "synthdrome" being Rudiman's name for his workspace.
Recorded directly from his Yamaha RM800 mixer to a Tascam DA-20 DAT tape recorder, the compilation has an appealing mix of primal power and introspection. A cannonade of rugged kicks burst through the vaporous coos of these tracks, with an array of Detroit-inspired hi-hats scurrying above it all. Rudiman squeezes plenty of emotion out of that template. The revved-up tempo, thumping toms, bouncy hand percussion and insistent chords of "Ultrafreekay" are leavened by a piping countermelody and punctuated by an insistent "freak" sample. "Yeah... Boot It" is a subdued tech-funk number—its minor-key elegance, draped over metal-on-metal syncopation and percussive buzzes, has the feel of a techno hymn.
The track is indicative of another kind of depth that defines these tracks, one that fuses serious intent and good old partying-in-the-warehouse-at-6 AM fun. There is an intensely personal feel to a track like "Deep Blue Sea," with its gliding synth washes and light touch of acid. But there's also no denying the sheer joyousness of many of these tunes. An exuberant electro rhythm underpins the shimmering keys of "75 All The Way," with an arrangement of staccato bleeps creating a sense of nonstop propulsion. "Coming Home (A Deeper Space Remix)" comforts its discordant synth bursts with a blanket of warm pads and whispered vocals. Both "Genome Combination A" and "Genome Combination B," are as pure and blissful exemplars of techno momentum as you'll find anywhere. Rudiman probably never intended to break new ground with these tracks. Instead, he was simply making music that came from the heart.
01. Last Light On
02. 75 All The Way...
04. Yeah... Boot It
05. Coming Home (A Deeper Space Remix)
06. Deep Blue Sea
07. The Last Day On Earth
09. Genome Combination A
10. Inside The Sun
11. Genome Combination