Thug Entrancer

Death After Life I-VIII

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Following a series of online tracks, Chicago-based experimental electronic producer Ryan McRyhew debuted properly with Death After Life I-VIII, a dark suite of abstract techno explorations under the name Thug Entrancer. Constructed from a variety of mostly analog drum machines, synths, and sequencers, the album's shadowy rhythms draw heavily on the influence of early masters of isolated electronic music, as well as picking up on threads borrowed from Chicago's largely obscured juke scene. The snaky hi-hats, rolling snares, bubbling synth arpeggios, and MIDI horns of "Death After Life I" give way to a dubbier feel on the album's second track, calling to mind both Drexciya's underwater ambience and a far more dazed take on the negative space of early-'90s minimal house. Each movement of Death After Life offers a slightly different perspective on the same shadowy themes, using vintage drum sounds and fat synth stabs to summon extreme feelings of loneliness, anger, suspicion, and ultimately, some type of solace in self-acceptance by the end of its cycle. While staying within the framework of these darker themes and expressions, Thug Entrancer calls up the TB-303 basslines of acid house, icy synth melodies, slowly unfolding polyrhythms, and trance-inducing repetitions of all these elements, resulting in an album that's in a constant state of movement while retaining the same muted color throughout. Working in long phases of slow development, Death After Life manages to pull energy from the darker corners of several splintered fields of techno to craft a strange and menacing hybrid that reaches dizzying places of both ugliness and resolution on almost every track. [The CD version of the release adds two bonus tracks: "Ready to Live, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2."]

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