Lackluster: Container: URB Review


(Focus/UK) The first full-length album from the Focus stable introduces Esa Ruoho and his collected ambient works. "Starcell UK" might be familiar to abstract trainspotters (it kicked off a Focus sampler earlier this year) but there are also 15 tracks of previously unheard bittersweet electronics dug up from Ruoho's vaults.

Imagine the Aphex Twin when he made lucid fairytale melodies and not ear-grating noise -- tracks like "Grind," "Bothersome" and "Thor's Magic Bathtub" are surely designed to make grown men (and women) cry. Elsewhere he injects the bleepy DNA helix first patented by the likes of B12, Black Dog and As One with his own viral strain, rounding out the edges with his smooth harmonic touch.

And importantly, it's not just soporific chilled-out nonsense -- the beats and pieces constantly engage, morphing into new shapes with every repeated listen. The result is a veritable Pandora's Box of sonic sine waves.

Kieran Wyatt