Julien Chastagnol from Toulouse, France made his quiet debut in 2008 as Doc Colibri, putting out a series of self-releases and digital EPs for obscure net labels before adopting the Ruby My Dear moniker in 2010. Further EPs for the Rotator's Peace Off label and Acroplane Recordings showed Chastagnol continue to play with a mash-up of styles—including reggae, acid, trance, drum & bass as well as folk, funk and rock—all sonically different, and yet delivered with the same idiosyncratic sense of atmosphere and fitful song structure. It is an approach to composition with as much affinity to improvisational jazz and icons like Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman—which his name and album title pay their respective tributes to—as it is to the work of breakcore and IDM veterans such as Venetian Snares, Squarepusher and Aphex Twin. And it is exactly this multi-referential and inherently musical base that makes Ruby My Dear—and Remains of Shapes to Come—so charming.
The album begins on a duly introductory note with "Maiden," a sombre incantation through broken beat and melancholy chords that perfectly lulls you—like too much wine—into a fuzzy, malleable stupor. But we don't dwell here for long as RMD proceeds to draw the first—and most threatening—piece of floor artillery from the album's well-equipped armoury. "Rubber Head" is exactly why this record is on Ad Noiseam: it's deep, dark and utterly brutal dubstep, broken up with some deliriously lush trademark RMD moments that make you forget but a second ago your face was all screwed up and bobbing along in the metal moshing position. We then get "Karoshi," which (as the name suggests) is some Japanese-flavoured breakcore—beautiful, melodic and thoroughly warped. This is chased by an offering from the scene's more party / mash-up sub-terrain in "Uken," which chews through Ini Kamoze's much sampled "World-A-Music" in a thoroughly danceable relay of reggaecore and bass-y dancehall.
"Syuma" and "L.O.M." are the album's longest and (consequently perhaps) most dissociative tracks. For this very fact they are also the best examples of RMD's compositional ingenuity. But it is through hearing the album in full that his mastery really comes to the fore. Through the full-length format his multi-faceted creativity has been granted room to breathe, allowing more tranquil moments like "Dinah" and "Knit for Snow" to blossom in between. Whether breakcore does ever make its fabled second coming is irrelevant if albums like Remains of Shapes to Come and visionaries such as RMD continue to keep the spirit alive.