Review Summary: Time to dust off these old recordings from the attic!
The advance of the internet has undoubtedly been a major influence on music. Especially in the early days of YouTube, previously unknown musicians could become widely famous in no-time. However, the internet has also made it more difficult for musicians to make a living. The countless opportunities for piracy and the advance of streaming services have obliterated sales of physical releases, thus placing an enormous emphasis on touring and merchandise. This way, the internet changed the industry’s whole business model. Yet, even to this day there are success stories to be found. RX-101, the musical alias of Erik Jong from Zwaag, The Netherlands, certainly is one of them.
Between 1997 and 1999, Jong was recording music that was heavily inspired by Rephlex artists such as µ-Ziq and AFX, known for glitchy, high tempo IDM and warm beats. After this period, he set his mind to other things. RX-101 was put on hold, and all of his tapes stayed on the shelves for the better part of two decades, never to be released. If not for the internet, they would have been forgotten, and his music would have been lost to the world.
Yet, during the mid-10s, Jong came across AFX’s Soundcloud dump. He decided to digitalise all of his own recordings and subsequently uploaded them to Soundcloud himself. His recordings picked up steam rapidly, and Canadian label Suction_Records approached him, offering to release all of the RX-101 material. A set of EPs followed, and last year saw his debut, Dopamine, being released after its tracks having collected dust for almost 20 years.
As such, it is no wonder that these tracks sound like nuggets of pure, unadulterated 90s techno: that is precisely what they are. Serenity’s thirteen tracks are occasionally glitchy, sometimes leaning towards old school drum and bass, but always with strong IDM influences. More so than his debut, Serenity features a heavy industrial backbone throughout its runtime. A prime example of this would be RX-Generator, with its jackhammer 4/4 beat, oversaturated crash sample and mysterious synth line. Other 90s influences can be felt as well, with Isidis Planetia sounding like you picked up your old Nintendo 64, and Link is descending deep into Nintendo64 wonderland, fighting off wall masters in the Forest Temple.
The current musical climate is very well-suited for 80s and 90s throwback, with Suction_Records having made a wise move in releasing this record. For all of its old school sounds, there are moments when this album sounds ahead of its time as well. Sys.rx.7.a009, for example, is almost Tycho-ish in nature, with its sepia synth landscapes, sun-drenched and dripping with honey. Yet, all this sweetness is beautifully offset with the industrial, clanky beat, ultimately keeping things way more spicy than the Californian trio ever chose to do.
The good news is that Suction_Records reports have received around 175 tracks from RX-101, which are set to be released over the course of the next few years. It seems these are happy times for lovers of 90s electronic, and we have the internet to thank for that!