Available on: Stuff Records 12″

Rooks will be the eighth and final release on Glasgow’s Stuff Records, a label that has consistently exerted an influence over contemporary electronic music that has belied both its microscopic size and its tiny discography. While Rustie is unarguably Stuff’s greatest success story, the label has loyally supported the music of all who have released on it over the past seven years, and it seems entirely appropriate that this final release should be devoted to the work of Ruaridh Law, a contributor to the label’s very first release as part of Marcia Blaine School for Girls.

Rooks unravels thoughtfully, similar in many respects to the measured electronica explored on TVO’s The Dark is Rising EP, released on Stuff earlier this year. The fractured, clattering intro of B-side ‘Dots and Hashes’ gradually evolves into a propulsive Detroit throb, powering a celestial string melody reminiscent of Autechre at their most elegiac, while the A is dedicated to an updated version of ‘Afanc‘, which 2562 impressively refixed for The Dark is Rising. The soulful chug of this latest version of the track develops languorously, becoming increasingly embellished with ornate percussive detail until the intricate rattling subsides, leaving a stricken orchestral sample, decaying like an echo in the listener’s crackling synapses.

The diaphanous spectre of half-remembered rave and hardcore is a constant presence across The Village Orchestra’s oeuvre, and a characteristic of Stuff Records’ entire discography.  It wistfully evokes the halcyon days of free parties, reminding the listener of how far electronic music has evolved in the intervening years, while offering a rare degree of optimism in the future potential of the genre. Rooks will surely not be the last we hear from the individuals responsible, but it will stand as a fitting epitaph for a wonderful label.

Colin McKean



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