You could make a fair claim that Shawn Rudiman is making the best techno in America right now. Rudiman himself wouldn’t make that claim but thankfully a creator’s view of his own work is hardly ever definitive and there is a growing phalanx of supporters, fans and admirers that have risen in praise of one of America’s most significant talents.
You can see why on Timespan, the nine track (ten with a digital bonus on Bandcamp) collection from Shawn Rudiman’s archives. What could be a dull and antiseptic showcase of half-formed ideas and experimental tracks that didn’t quite work is instead a tour through a hothouse in full bloom, an eruption of violent colors and humid scents that illustrate the timeline (or “timespan” or as a three part trilogy of songs right in the middle has it, “TimeFrame”) of Rudiman’s career.
There is a certain residue of the times left on some of these tracks; it’s clearly intentional and in some ways illuminating of the cyclical nature of music in that I’ve heard tracks quite similar to the quasi-throwback “75 All The Way” or the rattler breakbeats of “Memory Pool” recently – as in, new tracks with this sound made in the last year and released in the last few months. You too will live to see every profound moment of history turned into movie and all of your phatpants and Doc Martins come back into fashion. The aforementioned “TimeFrame” tracks (numbered 1, 2 and 3) are the highlight for me. It’s not necessary to listen on quality headphones or a bad ass soundsystem to really appreciate them, but it certainly adds another layer to the music. Every beat comes out sounding like a polished stone, a smooth surface gleaming bright with a profound and luxuriant depth. One can imagine Rudiman mixing these down on half-speed for hours to capture every sub-audible twitch and the resonance of every decay. It’s the kind of craftsmanship that the music industry rarely rewards, and when you find this kind of record it’s an absolute delight.
If the medium unlocks any added context to the message, the appearance of an album-length collection from Shawn Rudiman’s archives on Pittsburgh Tracks adds quite a bit to our understanding here. There’s a blue collar sentiment to the records created by this and other people in this general “movement” of colleagues and friends, and a shared aesthetic that comes out not just in the music but an artistic honesty that bleeds through the wax.
Shawn Rudiman: Timespan (Pittsburgh Tracks)
1. Shawn Rudiman: Electro Days (05:09)
2. Shawn Rudiman: 75 All The Way (05:20)
3. Shawn Rudiman: Ultrafrequey (04:59)
4. Shawn Rudiman: Memory Pool (06:52)
5. Shawn Rudiman: TimeFrame 1 (05:33)
6. Shawn Rudiman: TimeFrame 2 (04:38)
7. Shawn Rudiman: TimeFrame 3 (03:19)
8. Shawn Rudiman: Detachable Needs (06:45)
9. Shawn Rudiman: In Light / In Darkness (07:19)
10. Shawn Rudiman: Turn Bad [ Digital Exclusive ] (06:57)