Lackluster: Lexicon of Goods: Igloomag Review


When you’ve been putting out music as long as Lackluster (Esa Ruoho) has, it must be difficult to mentally locate your current project in the vast expanse of your previous material. Indubitably, his latest full length release Lexicon of Goods palpably sits atop nearly two decades of production experience and demonstrates the intricacies of his much refined work philosophy.“Instead of me drawing a very careful line on a canvas with a sharp pencil,” explains Ruoho, “I choose a kind of a brush that sends out ripples echoing beyond the line itself, like taking a branch and sweeping it across a pond, the ripples will go forth and then combine and re-combine, I’ll stare at that with my ears and then draw something else to accompany it. Eventually the ripples become as much a part of the melody or the sound as the notes or original sounds themselves.”

The flow of Lexicon of Goods closely mimics this causal methodology: mellow, drawn out galactic interludes taking turns with percussive adventures both showcasing the distinct Lackluster versatility that will be immediately familiar to fans of his earlier works. After the floating NPR sounds of “Bleep Terrace,” the album descends into a more introspective ambient arena with “Calming Prescense” and “CombiA13,” reverting again with the snare driven sounds of “Falling All Over the Place” book-ended by the drum and bass aesthetics of “So There Spherical.” The standout track on this release is most certainly “Urban Sprawls,” comfortably tucked away second from last. Tilted tambourines, snares, and hats form wonderfully around the ascending main melody—which, despite being but a few scant measures long, never outstays its welcome.

The fact that Ruoho has managed to stick so close to his particular style for so many years while continuously refining it merits its own mention. Producing from such frigid frontiers as Canada, Ireland, England, and his native Finland, it’s easy to try and pin Ruoho as some kind of sonic ambassador of the North. Ruoho doesn’t envision himself as such, instead seeing his core sound as being modulated by the relationships he has forged through those experiences: “To me, tracks made in Regina do not have a specific feel to them that would somehow be different from tracks made in Finland…the tracks made in London don’t sound like they were influenced by the people there or the sights and sounds, they’re again just tracks—it was more about the connections made, some of which fizzled out pretty soon and some of which stayed alive for a while.” Nevertheless, Ruoho admits that spatial changes have certainly influenced his latest release: “It should be stated, that Lexicon Of Goods wouldn’t exist had I not moved to yet another flat and had I not been inspired by my spouse to go through my archives and see what is there.”

2014 has been a busy year for a Ruoho; in addition to Lexicon he released a sister EP to 2011’s The Invisible Spanish Inquisition titled Moments. While definitely still well within the realm of the Lackluster persona, Moments strays more towards the experimental with the impending drones of tracks like “The Source” and “You’re Me.” The longer the story arc, the harder it will be to satisfactorily conclude it, yet these releases together achieve exactly that—the successful encapsulation of years of concentrated effort. “They feel like what they are—the end of a chapter. Sometimes the chapter takes a decade to close, but the sense of closure is palpable. That portion of my life and times is over, backed up to the machines of listeners. They’re safe now, instead of stuck hidden away on a volatile spinning disk.”

You also can help Esa out by contributing to the fund raising effort to reclaim back stock. One of the goals includes a download of Lexicon of Goods among other releases, so it’s a great way to access this release.

Lexicon of Goods is available on JellyFish Frequency. [Bandcamp | Indie GoGo]

Mark Boyden