References: Blueprint Rec, Tresor, Londen
A lot has happened in the six years since James Ruskin’s third studio album ‘Into Submission’ (Tresor, 2001) hit the ground like a dancefloor wrecking ball. Computers have become studios, digital downloading has revolutionised the music industry and the boundaries between rock and dance music have become increasingly blurred. Similarly, in the same period Ruskin has rebuilt his studio, started a family and suddenly last year lost his best friend and Blueprint co-founder, Richard Polson.
Taking stock of all these experiences and developments brings us to a new composition that is a huge step in Ruskin’s musical development and fitting testament to the inspiration and life of a close friend. Forming a massive leap in sound that joins the dots between his previous dancefloor savvy material with intricate basslines, beautiful melodies and hypnotic rhythms, ‘The Dash’ is the mark of an artist in full control of his sound.
Ruskin`s early exposure to musical alternatives via active radio and club scenes affected his own need for self-expression and identity through music. The rampant electro, hip-hop and emerging Detroit techno scenes channelled his influences toward more electronic sources enough to inspire his own productions in the early 90s. His step toward DJing had already been made in 1991 and his blinding mixing style was earning him top spots across the UK and eventually worldwide by 1996, coinciding with his and Polson’s first releases as ‘Outline’ on the emerging force that was Blueprint.
With the focus on British techno sharpened by the late nineties, the scene' s welcome reaction to his ‘Further Design’ (Blueprint, 1997) debut album propelled his name and motivation still further. Already a guest DJ at Berlin’s infamous Tresor sweatbox he was to begin a long-standing musical relationship with the label that continues today. Two albums, ‘Point 2’ (2000) and ‘Into Submission’ (2001) quickly followed, cementing his sound within the world’s electronic elite and then Ruskin took a back seat from production, regrouped and developed new strategies.
These new techniques have spawned a sound full of depth and atmosphere whereby bass-lines become melody hooks and tracks such as the opening sequence link four different sections together like a conductor building and bridging the composite segments of a concerto. The dance-floor is never far away but the warm; tunnel like encasement of sound cocoons the listener into the subtle layers of the album’s myriad hidden depths. ‘The Dash’ may well still be about electronic body movement but this is also just as much about mind and soul.
The album has a feel that traverses from home listening to James’s incessant nocturnal realm of DJing with consumate ease. Consistently headlining clubs and festivals throughout Europe and beyond as one of the UK’s most revered techno DJs, the album gives us glimpses into a twilight world full of sweaty handshakes, dimly lit clubs and smoke filled caverns. Now incorporating a computer into his DJ sets, which has effectively become the third turntable, it has allowed him to explore and return to classic house and electro tracks that simply could not previously fit into his sets. “I can now layer sounds underneath old tracks to counteract the sonic deficiencies they have with modern records and manipulate them far beyond what you can achieve solely with vinyl,” he says of his re-shaped DJ sets. Similarly old house records were literally too slow to play but Ruskin’s use of new technology has helped to bring those elements back and join the sounds of his formative years with modern techno compositions.