Album review: volruptus returns to earth with first contact
By Maddi Fearn
Photo credit to A Cabine
With his musical career growing from what began as an experimental joke project on Garageband aged 14, Volruptus is now cemented as one of the most eccentric and elusive names in techno. With the producer now based in Berlin, the alien boogie commander – real name as yet unidentified- would probably feel more comfortable calling outer space home than either of his European dwellings.
First appearing on fellow Icelander Bjarki’s label bbbbbb in 2017 with his bubbly acid techno EP Homeblast, Volruptus has gone on to feature on several gabber and psy-trance compilations for the label, as well releasing material on Sweaty Records and Russian label трип (Trip.) After returning to bbbbbb to release his EP Alien Agenda in 2018, the producer’s newly released LP First Contact is his first album to come out on Bjarki’s label, and the culmination of four year’s work since his eponymous debut on Sweaty Records.
First Contact is, surprisingly, exactly the sort of EP you’d expect to be produced when someone who hails from outer space via Reykjavik teams up with bbbbbb. In keeping with the label’s notoriety for innovation splashed with a little bit madness, track titles such as “Top 10 BIZZARE Discoveries Science STILL Can’t Explain…” and “Butt shakin’ freaks” are a welcome signpost before even having to press play that First Contact is set to be full of Volruptus’ impish sense of humour.
Opening with jumpy alien funk "Tapetum Lucidum"- perhaps one of the tamer tracks on the album- First Contact is certainly not for the faint hearted, but for IDM or techno fans who love the breaksy electro patterns of the late 90s and early 00s, it’s nothing short of a dream. First Contact manages to jump from IDM tinged deep electro with the album’s namesake “First Contact” to intense bassline (splashed with a bit of ethereal goodness) in “TOP 20 FACTS You Didn’t Know About ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS!”, with “Fotafimi" teetering on the edge of well judged chaos.
The album travels from the intense strangeness of opening tracks "We are the Cyborgs" and "Chixclub Space Rock" to the lighter pastures of "First Contact" and "Algorith Society", which despite breaking away from the hell-for-leather style of earlier tracks stay true to Volruptus' alienesque sound. Between the pacey boldness of "Butt Shakin' Freaks', utter erraticism of "Fotafilm" and relative calmness of "Algorithm Society" Volruptus has managed to make a truly set spanning album.
First Contact is a testament to Bjarki’s willingness to champion such wacky, innovative electronic artists on bbbbbb and Volruptus’ skill for producing fun, interstellar IDM tracks which will have you dancing before you’ve even realised you’ve stood up. The brilliance of bbbbbb is that it provides Volruptus with a rare platform to be as exactly as relentlessly absurd as he wants, and it works.