I consistently get the sense that Canadians are underappreciated as producers of electronic music. Sure, a few of them get plenty of well-deserved credit as the groundbreakers they are—looking at you Plastikman, Tiga, A-trak. And even in recent years, deserving folks like Kaytranada and Jacques Greene have made more than respectable careers for themselves. But I’m always amazed that for a country of only ~35 million people, there is such a high concentration of talent up there. This feels especially true with respect to technical prowess. A lot of the producers I run across from north of the border just have major fucking chops.
RiDylan (real name Dylan Gauthier) is one of those producers. For well over a decade, he’s been releasing music that lives somewhere in the universe between breakcore, jungle, acid, and glitch. Notably, in 2019 he released what appears to have been the next-to-final record on Jason Forrest’s Cock Rock Disco imprint–a real brain-melter collection of fucked up ravey junglism (check that release here).
Gauthier’s latest release, a five-track EP called Switch 8, still exists in the universe he’s inhabited over the years, but some of the ebullient rave chaos of past releases has been replaced by more of an icy refinement. This is exemplified by a song like “Eternal Minutes” — a stripped-back 150+bpm electro number with tightly EQ’d drums underpinning a bitcrushed acid bassline and a meandering glassy sine wave pattern–who knew a bitcrusher could be used so carefully? The record’s opener, “Balaclava Clouds” also demonstrates how Gauthier is saying something new using familiar tools. The amen break reprogramming is as detailed and complicated as anything he’s produced in the past, but instead of piling mayhem atop the sturm und drang, here the 303 isn’t much more than a single triplet squelch that automates in and out of audibility. Save for the breakbeat kaleidoscope and minimalist acid licks, the track is just a huge cloud of bells and pads. These may sound like simple changes to have made, but capitalizing on the contrast of these disparate elements–and delivering each with such care–ends up functioning as an effective way to communicate a set of nuanced emotions instead of just fire and brimstone or all-out-rave.
The other three songs on the record are admittedly more reminiscent of Gauthier’s breakcore past–including an absolutely frenzied remix to close out the record by Osaka legend Laxenanchaos. But despite all the breakbeat havoc, these last three still demonstrate an evolution. Even the Laxenanchaous remix elegantly winds itself down in the final minute of the EP from disarray to relative simplicity, ending with a few seconds of what sounds like a field recording of children playing on the street, set to a Vangelis score.
Gauthier is making music as energetic as ever, but his palette–both sonically and emotionally–is expanding to include subtler shades between all of the primaries.
RiDylan – “Balaclava Cloud” (bc)
RiDylan – “Eternal Minutes” (bc)
RiDylan – Turbocide (Laxenanchaos Remix) (bc)