Arcology is a huge leap for the sound artist, real name Ryan McRyhew, after 2014’s hypnotic but oppressively dark Death After Life, which made my best of the year list. Instead of scaling up even larger, he’s taken his process apart and rebuilt it with more nuanced, texturally rich pieces. What once felt like dizzying vertigo is now a sprawling maze.
With his second major release, Thug Entrancer goes full-on cyberpunk with a set of interlocking tunes that drift between the alien forms of deep Detroit techno and the skittering cloud cities of modern footwork. It makes even more sense for this Colorado artist than his remarkable debut did, based just a ways to the left of the meccas of his two major ingredients.
In contrast to the lengthy, blunt-edged productions on his debut, the set here flexes a wealth of entry points, soft edges, and melodic twists that feels positively friendly in comparison. The cover art is a solid indicator of what’s going on here, all glistening sharp edges in liquid blackness, profoundly emphasizing the “punk” half of cyberpunk in every way it can, down to the jokey Calvin pissing tattoo etched onto the figure’s skull plate. The music responds in kind, dropping the floor out every time it begins to feel comfortable. The palette is a constantly shifting suite of intricate drum programming and dystopian synths, evoking the legendary Drexciya as much as contemporaries like Jlin and Machinedrum.
Here’s single Ronin, which is probably not for epileptics:
The album can be purchased and listened to on the Thug Entrancer Bandcamp page.