2 Dec 2022

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Ryumas - Album Review: Brand. Construct. Form.

31 Oct 2022 // A review by Steve Shyu
Dunedin-dwelling producer and musician Hamish Crabb, under his stage-name Ryumas, has been creating experimental electronic music for the past four years. In the present day of October 2022, his collated work over that time has been released as a full-length album. Entitled Brand. Construct. Form., it is now out on Spotify for the world to peruse and indulge in.

Let me begin by stating that I’m not all that familiar with the jargon when it comes to producing electronic music. No, I don’t know which particular effects were used, and admittedly, I even have a hard time telling what’s played on a true keyboard and what’s on a synthesiser. However, I dare say I know what sounds good and works on a tune, regardless of what instruments made the sounds.

Thus, when I was introduced that this record was dubbed “experimental electronic”, I was mostly prepared for some ultra-aural adventures, even if I couldn’t accurately explain away the technical complexities I might hear. Whilst that label isn’t incorrect, Brand. Construct. Form. seems to strive to break any expectation of what one might expect of it.

Right out the gate, skittering hi-hats, loads of synths, plus generous helpings of scratchy effects gives one a fair summary of the outing ahead. Opening track Umeboshi boasts some very Asiatic-sounding melodies, which makes sense as “umeboshi” means “salted preserved plums” in Japanese. How quaint.

Phi features, once again, the trap beat of prominent hi-hats skittering, and lots of warped synthesised sounds, piled over with scratchy effects. This recurring theme is affirmed on the third number, Lemon Coil. If you were hoping to be spared of the epilepsy-inducing crowding of effects, perhaps skip the first half of this track. For in the last half, there is an energising keyboard solo, and some much-needed melodic hooks, which are finally provided in the last forty seconds. It’s almost like a hardcore punk performance pressed as an electronic tune.

Key highlights on this album are Umeboshi, Shell and Acicula, the latter of which involves lots of anthemic, sweeping chords, and expansive synths, some that remind one of vintage videogames. As does the first tune Umeboshi, which results in a nice book-ending to open and close an album.

On certain tracks like Poison Ivory, Cuisinaire and Glu Tach, structure and cohesion appears to be left off the plans, with inconsistent chord changes and oddly-matched keys of vocal sample, driving the listening experience to sound overly “artsy”.

Tracks like Lemon Coil and Kaisor Scar seem to end prematurely after a nice, pleasant dynamic build. After some re-arrangements, the aforementioned could become high-quality electronica, as there are plenty of epic segments that could be utilised.

As another example, with Shell clocking in at just two minutes and a half long, one seriously wishes there was more explored with the major key hook, paced itself, and let passages of the tune breathe, perhaps reserving the effects for the breakdown or saving them for choruses.

With the myriad of effects and samples obviously at the artist’s disposal, there is certainly no shortage of potential in creating tremendous, behemoth pieces. For instance, one can certainly picture Glacial Skies and Shell becoming either more atmospheric and pensive, or epic, stadium-sized EDM tunes.

With this album, if the creator’s goal was to set a draft of an arthouse, hyper-dystopian cyberpunk film or videogame, then this collection of tunes has hit the spot. But for the casual listener looking for something to groove out to with friends, or to have something in their headphones as they go for a walk, this may be challenging.

But hey, there’s plenty here to enjoy, so listen for yourself. Check out Brand. Construct. Form. here, and follow Ryumas on Instagram and YouTube.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Ryumas

Ryumas is an experimental electronic artist based in Dunedin NZ. They're interested in creating unique projects with eccentric and chaotic sound design.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ryumas


Brand. Construct. Form
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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