Rating: 7.5 / Format: CD / Label: Ghost Box
The latest full-length to be released on Ghost Box, Julian House’s label that releases hauntological treats from the Belbury Poly, The Focus Group and more, is titled The Transactional Dharma of Roj, and is the work of Roj Stevens, a former member of Broadcast, who’re basically the pop group of the UK’s whole hauntological circle (read: one of them’s a girl). This is Stevens’ first solo album, and if it’s anything to go by, he is a badman of the highest order.
The quintessentially English, Carry On vibes of Mordant Music et al are present throughout Roj’s Dharma, but musically its diversity is stunning, sporting languid loop pieces (‘A Beginning Word’), Belbury Poly style radio transmissions (‘Sighting in Corridor 12’), and incredibly beautiful ambient works that walk the line between Rune Grammofon weirdness and Eno’s chime-driven watercolours (‘Inhale. Exhale. Love.’, ‘They Are In The Room With Us Right Now’). There’s even room for abstract, mutated dance music: ‘The Process Revealed’ sounds like Zomby armed with a synthesizer, a xylophone and a lot of spare time, and ‘A Beginning Word’s backing echoes the analog clunk of the Hyperdub producer’s recent remix of Animal Collective. ‘Meditation on Nothingness’ is wigged-out tropical toy-house, while ‘Yellow Peel’ recalls dubstep producer Shackleton’s more eccentric moments recording on the Mordant Music label.
According to the inlay of The Transactional Dharma, the album “imagines a kind of cultural and psychic revolution exploding in the rigid confines of a small English town”. All you need to know is that it’s a guy doing about a million different types of music better than anyone who simply records as Roj has any right to. Like I say, badman.