- Lackluster: Grind
- Lackluster: Catch 22
- Lackluster: Me Me Me Me Me Me
- Lackluster: Trull Cakes
- Lackluster: Thor's Magic Bathtub
- Lackluster: Bothersome (Mother Mix)
- Lackluster: The Weakend State
- Lackluster: Clinique
- Lackluster: 20333
Lackluster: Container: Donal Dineen's Sunken Treasures Review (Irish Times)
Esa Ruoho began releasing records out of his Helsinki home studio in 1995. It was a pivotal time for undergound electronic music generally and one where the power base was noticably moving away from the centre towards ever more remote corners of the globe.
Back then, the tectonic plates were shifting in dramatic fashion. A new order was on the rise with self-sufficient producers beginning to reap the rewards of the DIY boom.
There was a flurry of activity undergrond and an explosion of new stars above it. Lights were going on all over the place. The bedroom soldiers were finally bringing the heat in earnest, using new fangled software to bypass the studio system entirely. The power was shifting back to the individual and a quiet revolution was brewing. The possibilities seemed endless.
Suddenly, up pops Finland on the dial and out pours the mesmerising sound of Lackluster and the album Container. What a beautiful noise to behold. It resonated with a gentle softness pre- viously unheard. Here was an example of how the understated could be reconfigured to pack quite a punch.
Ruoho crafted something fresh and original from generic music-production home-computer software. Despite appearances, this wasn’t easy. The easier it is to make noise, the harder it get’s to come up with a truly original sound, but Ruoho managed with aplomb. The source of Container was no surprise. There was a huge spike in the volume of electronic music coming from the colder corners of the Scandanavian north at that particular point. By the time Container was released at the turn of the millenium the Northern Lights were outshining almost everyone. Lackluster’s music stood out so effervescently you could nearly say it glowed. It’s a message worth getting.
Lackluster: Container: All Music Guide Review
By making his twinkling techno tracks available by easy download and via micro-edition CD-R, Finland's Esa Ruoho generated a flurry of interest on the Internet. Word spread, Ruoho's reputation grew, and the young producer found himself snapped up by Defocus Music, Clair Poulton's fledgling successor to her legendary Clear label.
CONTAINER is a compilation culled from Ruoho's Lackluster project archives. While avatars such as Autechre lead the charge toward difficult, digitally abstract forms, this collection witnesses a refreshing return to the simple pleasures of melody. Lackluster circa 1997, represented by "Thor's Magic Bathtub," "Pillow," and "Grind," is ear candy of the highest order, stressing sweet synth-pop strains over beat heroics. Tracks dating from 1998, such as "Starcell UK," "The Weakened State," and "Krhm," recapture the magic moment when the Artificial Intelligence posse--B12, Aphex Twin, The Black Dog, et al--perfected the "armchair techno" formula. Ruoho's more recent tracks build on these solid foundations, adding stylish contemporary touches of hip-hop breakbeat on "Catch 22," and "Clinique," and trip-hop moodiness on "Bothersome (Mother Mix)".