- Menacing, high-definition techno from a singular artist.
- Seth Horvitz has a complex relationship with Rrose, his female alter ego. When Rrose emerged at the beginning of the decade their identity was unknown, but as the project has developed Horvitz has addressed questions about Rrose, and drawn a distinction between Rrose and himself. He's emphasized that he does not identify as female, but rather that Rrose is "a persona, a political statement, an exploration of identity, meant to provide some magic in the performance space." That his decision as a cisgendered man to release music as a woman could attract criticism is a fact not lost on Horvitz, as his careful handling of the subject demonstrates. While discussing his own relationship with gender he's also called for the inclusion of more women and non-binary people on lineups, insisting that booking Rrose "does not add diversity in and of itself."
Pseudonyms are often used to preserve an artist's anonymity, but Rrose was created to enable creativity. Horvitz, who was releasing as Sutekh as early as 1997, had started to stray from dance floor music in the early 2000s. As he told Groove Mag, he returned to techno in 2011 with "a certain set of ideas and a certain set of aesthetic boundaries"—a new approach embodied by a new persona. Rrose's debut LP, Hymn To Moisture, doesn't stray beyond these boundaries, but explores them comprehensively from within. The album covers a surprisingly expansive atmospheric and emotional range while remaining unmistakably Rrose.
Though there are plenty of people making ostensibly similar music—drone-heavy, detailed, psychedelic techno—Rrose is a singular artist. Their music interferes with the perception of time. (Horvitz's "Strumming Machine," a self-playing piano piece from 2011 built on a repetitive and evolving arpeggio pattern, sounds like a precursor to Rrose's hypnotic techno.) On tracks like "Dissolve," repetitive rhythms emerge and transform as emphasis shifts between different voices. Drones slowly rise and fall in pitch. Sounds resonate with and bleed into each other until they become a wall of noise.
Rrose's sound design is consistently impressive, and Hymn To Moisture includes some of their most perfectly engineered work yet. The way the layers of "Columns" dissolve at the end to leave a haunting chime melody is one of many powerful, high-definition moments in which time seems to freeze. At points it becomes physical—the goosebump-inducing static noises at the opening of "Open Cell" are eerie, almost invasive. Some of the best tracks explore the more agile, ambient side of Rrose's sound—the steely "Saliva," beatless except for a submerged kick, stands out.
Hymn To Moisture is as masterful and immersive as you would expect of a Rrose full-length. They induce feelings of awe, hypnosis, dissociation and dread with ease, but they've rarely appeared as calm or even optimistic as they do here, particularly on the drone tracks "Horizon" and "Hymn To Moisture." Horvitz recently said: "I created Rrose largely to keep the project, and techno, separate from the rest of my life. But after seven years, Rrose has become an essential part of my soul…" Perhaps Hymn To Moisture signals Horvitz's relaxation and submission to his alter ego, leaving Rrose at the height of their powers.
07. Open Cell
08. Hymn To Moisture