- One of this year's finest techno LPs.
- Each day on his way home from his manufacturing job, Shawn Rudiman wheels his bike to his studio, housed in the weather-worn former industrial structure next to Pittsburgh's Bloomfield Bridge. In his room, Rudiman is surrounded by stacks of synths and drum machines spanning back to 1990, the records that inspire him, and the MPC3000 he uses to sequence just about everything. These are the tools of his idiosyncratic trade, his life's work.
Lots of artists say they would be obsessed with music, DJing and making tracks regardless of whether anyone was paying attention. Rudiman has proof. Between 1998 and 2001, Pittsburgh was home to a thriving rave scene, a period that saw Rudiman put out his first solo records on labels like Dan Bell's 7th City and develop his signature, on-the-fly improv live sets after a power outage at a party. Things died out in the decade that followed, a few steadfast bar nights hanging on within an underground scene more focused on math and indie rock. Rudiman refers to a gig with Claude Young as the moment he knew it was coming back. Since then, Steel City dance music heads have coalesced around the Hot Mass afterhours and Rudiman has emerged as an elder statesman for a rejuvenated scene.
Whether or not Pittsburgh is considered a part of the Midwest is a topic of some debate on the ground, but as far as Rudiman's music goes, the answer is an emphatic yes. The tracks on his first full-length of new music in seven years are rooted in the melodic triumphs of second-wave Detroit techno. Tracks like "Voidesque" reveal a preternatural understanding of minimalist funk rooted in Bell's legendary, early '90s DBX records. Claude Young and mid-'90s Transmat loom in the chord-work found on tracks like "Basics," while "Lead Water" is a "Kaotic Harmony"-style melodic epic.
Rudiman's ties to Detroit are a given. He's close with the Underground Resistance crew, member of the Detroit Techno Militia, and performs at or around the Movement Festival every year. But Rudiman is a product of Pittsburgh. The grooves that form the basis of genius tracks like "Stelline Memories" sound effortless, but they're the product of thousands of hours in the studio. For every fleeting, perfect groove captured, thousands more have floated off into the ether. And that's just fine with Rudiman. Occasionally, if we're lucky, a techno album like Conduit emerges.
01. The Best Scene In Film
02. Half Life
03. Leaving Earth Behind
05. Stelline Memories
07. Midwest Water
08. Lead Water
10. Fighting The Flow