From the mid-’90s through the early 2000s, groups like Mouse on Mars and To Rococo Rot existed on the cusp of post-rock and all things electronic. It’s such considered music. Those groups treaded lightly, as if tiptoeing through an unseen semantic minefield. They were on my radar for much of that time, but remained unlistened to despite my pride at “getting” Oval. And now, despite the efforts of our best nostalgists, the finer details concerning the context of that period are lost. So while I’m tempted to try and draw a line between Redsuperstructure, a solo album from one-third of To Rococo Rot for the millennial label Raster-Noton, and his previous work, it’s bound to be tenuous and ill guided. So I’ll stick to generalities.
Emerging on his own for the first time since 2004, Robert Lippok sounds less afraid of obviousness. Beats act like beats instead of challenging themselves; on “Sugarcubes,” he even takes it to a relentless extreme. There are also swooshes, pings and other chunks of detail that give the listener a bit more to mull over after the music’s stopped. This album is techno only in a generous application of the term, but neither is it ambient or noodly. Though apparently long in the making, Redsuperstructure is an exemplar of Raster-Noton’s newly groovy sound, the one that made Kangding Ray’s OR a 2011 standout.
Indeed, “Inphase” and “Whitesuperstructure” could even be mistaken for a outtakes from that album: with rubbery basslines and assertive snaps, it’s that Alexander Calder approach to techno again, idealized forms set up in stable orbits. Redsuperstructure hits that sweet spot between clinical and pumping, although Lippok’s approach to rhythm is more severe and emphatic, less elastic and layered than Kangding Ray’s. He’s content to kind of hang out in the zone that would be more of a jumping-off point for OR.
When he plunges completely into his own thing on “Daylightastronomy,” it’s not exactly as satisfying as the more aggressive stuff, though not without its own appeal. It kind of sounds like Vladislav Delay on a Cosmos kick: it has that loose studio randomness that marries live intervention to studio preparations. Ultimately, Redsuperstructure lacks the shock of the new, but it cobbles together an identity of its own. It’s bolder than the music Lippok’s known for, and that’s a boon for the listener.