It’s been a little over a year since DJ Rupture released what may very well be his magnum opus, Uproot. One year may not seem like a long time, but given the abundance of available music in the Internet age, a well-reviewed album’s shelf life has decreased considerably. But wouldn’t you know it; Uproot has aged beautifully. Whether you’ve kept it in consistent rotation or merely returned to it every once in a while, it remains a stunning global survey of sound. Uproot reached into obscure corners of the world, untapped by even the most forward thinking producers and DJs, pulled out bizarre fragments of ephemera, and spliced it all together like it was the most natural thing in the world. And even if none of that were true, Uproot is indisputably a straight-up banger, loaded down with sinister beats that quaked through every set of speakers it graced.
So it’s with a combination of great joy and almost imperceptible disappointment that I report that Solar Life Raft, DJ Rupture’s collaboration with Matt Shatedek, is basically a logical continuation of Uproot’s international breadth. Those who have heard Uproot won’t necessarily be knocked over by this new record, and perhaps that’s a little greedy of us listeners, but Solar Life Raft is still a brilliantly structured mix of sampled and original music all merged together to equal more than the sum of their parts. For those of us who haven’t fully processed Uproot, Solar Life Raft will be, at the very least, constantly impressive.
As was the case with Uproot, Solar Life Raft is full of bass-driven, head-spinning highs, but it’s not merely meant to be party music. Rupture and Shatedek keep the mood generally lively, but they get a comparable amount of mileage out of the quieter moments. Nico Muhly’s entrancing “Mothertongue: Pt.1,” built around a dizzying series of overlapping falsetto voices, slows the mix down to a hypnotic crawl, only to be rebuilt by Mizz Beats’ effervescent “Blue Night.” Elsewhere, Shatedek and Rupture take Caroline Bergvall’s piece of spoken word, “More Pets,” and splice it with some heavily delayed dub, simulating a severely trippy version of The Books.
But listing highlights is somewhat arbitrary. Solar Life Raft is meant to be experienced linearly, as a cohesive whole. Having favorite moments is natural, but the elemental beauty of Rupture and Shatedek’s work lies in the precision behind each cut. The ebb and flow of Solar Life Raft is carefully harnessed, continually rewarding repeat listeners. Eventually, the mood dips and resurgences seem so intuitive that the whole affair almost begins to feel effortless. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.