The album format gives the French artist's strange, unclassifiable club music a new sense of space and freedom.
These are more than simply aesthetic complaints. She sees these problems as symptomatic of the way a once countercultural movement has been subsumed by the mainstream. Face To Phase, rRoxymore's first album, is her most complete turn away from techno, the style with which she tends to be associated. ("If it was techno from 1992, then sure, I would be techno then. But techno in 2018? No, I'm not," she's said.) There's only one four-on-the-floor beat on the record—"Forward Flamingo," a track whose irreverence and swagger recalls her housey Organ Smith EP from 2016. The rest of the LP spans beatless tracks, stuttering breaks and dub-inspired compositions.
The most obvious musical reference point is the UK's bass music scene, represented by labels like Bristol's Timedance, which included a rRoxymore track on its Patina Echoes compilation from last year. Take tracks like "Passages" or "Someone Else's Memory"—the combination of slow, clunking beats and sub-bass compares with recent Batu or Lurka. The raw, almost acoustic-sounding percussion recalls early Joe, who produced rRoxymore's favourite Hessle Audio release. Tracks like the steppy, lurching "What's The Plan" seem to trace the scene's lineage to its roots in dub.
rRoxymore has called the UK's bass scene "the most vivid in terms of creativity." Her creative journey towards bass and dub music is similar to the one described by Ray Philp in a review of a K-Lone EP earlier this year. Today, some producers, frustrated by the ubiquity of four-on-the-floor beats, are scouring the UK's hardcore continuum for answers, just as the UK producers who emerged from dubstep's collapse turned to house and techno in the early 2010s.
Face To Phase goes beyond simply mimicking these inspirations. Her tracks are crafted with a distinctive touch that fans of her previous work might recognise—an unusual fusion of cold introversion and dubbed-out humidity. "Energy Points" is a great example—the deep bass growls and intricate patterns of tuned percussion together create a uniquely tropical yet introspective soundworld.
rRoxymore's turn away from the dance floor on Face To Phase pays off brilliantly. The album format has given her music a new sense of freedom, space and drama. It comes through particularly well on the more abstract, beatless tracks like the foghorn-assisted opener, "Home Is Where The Music Is." It's a refreshing new direction from an artist whose music, while always intriguing, has rarely been this absorbing.