RxRy, like most internet blog sensations these days, is shrouded in mystery and veiled in anonymity. Much like Slow Magic and the like, he has purposefully remained in the shadows, building an alternative type of persona and image for himself. He takes on the role of a laboratory researcher exploring the vast reaches of psychic/telepathic sound and wav manipulation, delivering his findings in the form of cataloged sound files. This kind of thing is both good and bad for different reasons. It's common nowadays for those musicians who find themselves freely distributing their music through the interwebs to anyone who will hear them to find themselves in a veritable ocean of other talented kin. Soundcloud, bandcamp, blogspot, and various forums and boards are swimming in hopeful prospects - there are more do-it-yourself musicians producing content than ever before. It's sometimes necessary to somehow distinguish yourself, to stick out from the crowd, so a meticulously crafted false identity is as good an idea as any - especially if it's at least a little interesting. The problems arise when you ask yourself where the line lays between careful marketing and a 'gimmick' or 'shtick'. The latter by nature is undermining the intelligence of the listener, suggesting that not only are we foolish enough to be taken in on the merit of the gimmick alone instead of the music, but also that the image is inextricable from the music and must always be considered because, hey, we might not enjoy the album without it. This is a personal opinion and you are not obligated to agree or disagree, these are simply my thoughts on the subject. Thankfully, RxRy keeps his thing relatively quiet (you would only know all the laboratory stuff if you visited his site), and succeeds at separating it entirely from the music itself. The furthest it goes is probably his nonsensical, unpronouncable song titles, which is really just par for the course these days. So that's all I will really say about that - not to mention that there's so little information that there's not much left to expose about this artist. I'm going to attempt to simply focus on the music.
RxRy makes 'drownstep' music, a label he has created for himself (judging from my inability to find anybody or anything else labeled as such). As far as I can tell, this is some quirky brand of experimental ambient downtempo. We start off with a roar, then sink into a strange soundscape of what sounds like an orchestra tuning, with a tiny glitchy beat that sets the mysterious, subterranean tone for the rest of the album. Walls of sound come in and out of focus, wavy synths are crashing and fading into an empty drone. There's no strict structure or melody to speak of, more of a suffocating, digital amorphous blob, but that immediately changes with the next track, 'Aertheiwflx.' Twinkling synths set alongside a racing beat gives way to a deep bass swell that skips and loops like an old tape reel - tinny, reverby percussion with waterfall barrages of swirling effects somehow keep flowing and translates into something powerful yet delicate. The audio seems to be reaching a bursting point; the bass drowns out the other sounds, the beats are crackling and unstable, and for a split second the song stops completely and begins anew, like it's taking a deep breath. I get the impression that RxRy is attempting to push forth a very empathetic, human feeling through these tinny computer experiments, which is no easy feat.
In the first song with what you could call a melody, 'Straimn' finds itself partially emulating an NES game with its 8-bit bassline, and also hosts slices and snaps taken straight from a future garage song, though utilized in a more subtle fashion. They are not the focus of the song, it doesn't make you want to get up and dance, but keeps everything moving steady and displays an intricacy and appreciable level of detail. By this point you might be wondering just where exactly this is heading - RxRy is somewhat unique in his method of taking these separate seemingly-unrelated sounds and effects and layering them on top of each other in a specific fashion to create a relaxing (though confusing) atmosphere. These little buzzes and beeps, the almost-melodic vintage synths, the constant cloud of swirling ambiance - instead of going somewhere with a direction in mind, he seems to be creating a specific place for you to explore, a world with equal parts Tron and Middle-Earth.
Moving on, we're hit in the face with one of the best songs on the album. He fleshes out a surprising slo-mo hip-hop beat and puts gasps of air that sound like pipes leaking to great use - the subtlety has disappeared and turned into a pounding sonic assault that perks your ears up and forces you to pay attention to all the elements that make up his structure, be they whistles, faint sirens, minute time changes, or what sound like vocoder vocals. For the first time, I'm bumping my head and slightly zoning out due to a slight let-up in the demand for analyzing. After a couple blissful minutes it segues into something less powerful than what we've heard so far - he takes post-melody to the extreme here. If you're quite involved by now you could consider it simply another movement in the grand scheme of things, but after the lax attention the last track required, here I find myself taking a step back and seeing an ambient smorgasbord of sounds accompanied by the occasional all-encompassing bass thump. Taken track by track, this can seem hit or miss.
'Hranyfta/' evokes hazy sun-drenched images of days in nature despite being a wholly manufactured piece of art. These droning beeps make me sense a little bit of timelessness, where minutes drag on and summer days never end. RxRy is a master of taking sounds that sound less like instruments, and more like warning beeps or emergency signals, into something soulful, passionate, and full of feeling. Suddenly I feel melancholy, some type of longing for something I can't quite put my finger on, and I laugh as I realize basically orchestrated dial tones are doing this to me. The penultimate track, while relaxing and mild, actually has me wishing for the first time that he would try and find a direction for this. It's all well and good to aim for that 'painting a picture in your mind' type of feeling, but you have to consistently get there, otherwise you put yourself at risk of sounding... boring. DLTRA ends on a sigh, quietly, gracefully bowing out, although 'Djurht' doesn't really set a tone of finality. It isn't a single period, but rather a trail-off, which ultimately leaves me a little disappointed. It's a creeping, glitching, skipping thing that doesn't inspire too much of anything. I seem to say this about most closing tracks but is it wrong to expect a sort of end to the story? Sometimes I want closure, sometimes I want a bang instead of a whimper.
RxRy has carved himself a little niche with this drownstep business, creating a layered, emotional experience that, although far from perfect is - dare I say it - unique. He's obviously working on his mastery of layering and channeling tones through the tools given to him, and it shows. Consistency would be a goal to work towards, as it seems he's dipping his toes into several different streams here, resulting in a couple wildly differing states that don't always mesh in the best way. The image he chooses to portray is, to me, of little consequence, so perhaps take that with a grain of salt. I have to commend him for at least giving the choice of acknowledging the laboratory or not - regardless, the music is still free, and the music is what he wants you to hear, so it doesn't hurt to think of the construction as a sort of bonus. If he can manage to really wrangle with the kind of sound that gets your heart rate up, gets your blood pumping, and causes you to start feeling rather than listening, there's no telling where this ghost can go.
Here's a sample.
Here's the album. (320)
Here's the last.fm.
Here's the site.
Decide for yourself.