- If the notion of a renaissance man involves a mastery of multiple disciplines, then the two Finns hiding behind the name on this release are certainly on their way: their backstory involves meeting at an architecture firm before discovering that their true collaborative potential lay in techno beats. I say "two Finns" here because their press kits remains resolutely nameless, just as their press photos remain headless.
The individual elements at Renaissance Man's disposal are often generated from deliberately low-tech sources, like scissors, ping-pong balls, or an aerosol nozzle on their earlier "Spraycan" single, which give the tracks a kind of Duchampian, readymade vibe. To hear daily objects repurposed for repetitive sound patterns in this context is to experience something like a surgical cut into the fabric of quotidian life: this record sometimes feels as if, upon quitting their day job, they took home a bunch of office supplies and cut an album.
The architect angle, however, might throw you off, especially if you've read any press coverage for this release, which will have informed you that it's brainy, arty and critical—which it is, but that kind of description might imply that it's not any fun to listen to, or that you need an advanced degree to get it. In fact, Renaissance Man Project is a diverse and lively record, whose inventive sound design acts as a guiding thread across a diversity of genre workouts, including dance floor tech-house, ambient excursions, post-punk ditties and minimal dub techno.
Tracks like "Sensemaker" and "Damon Nabru" reflect their predilection for home listening and headspace trickery. The best listening environment for "Sensemaker," actually, would be if you could a good subwoofer in an art gallery: its combination of serious subterranean bass and processed stereo handclaps are best appreciated loud, but somewhere conducive for contemplation. The track is rooted around a classically sharp house music hi-hat, which together with claps forms a skinny backbone for a dizzying, psychedelic circuit through weird pulses and distorted samples. The single, "What Do You Do When You Do What You Do," whose title sounds like that of a mistranslated self-help manual, is another such effective appropriation, stacking layers and layers of syncopated tropical rhythms into a dense patchwork groove.
Sometimes the sound design here borders on KLF-style sound collage, like "Vancouver," which drifts through an evocative swarm of field recordings and disjointed melodies. The album's closing track "S.O.S." makes an orchestra of weirdly resonant clang noises in almost an Oriental key. It doesn't appear to relate to anything else on the record—not that the rest of the record really bears a homogenous veneer—and certainly doesn't feel like an album-ender. But perhaps that's the nature of the record as "project"—not a linear narrative, or a symphonic whole, but the account of a thoughtful creative process.
01. What Do You Do When You Do What You Do
03. Stalker Humanoid
04. Damon Nabru
06. Nikolai Kopeloi
07. Urban Nomad
08. Natty Jussi
10. Trance Central
12. Knocking Doors