Review: Steven Rutter & Bryonii – StarCrossed (Firescope Records)

cover of starcrossed by Steven Rutter and Bryonii

Steven Rutter joins forces with vocalist Bryonii to release the latest Firescope Records long-player; ‘StarCrossed. The Waveform Transmitter‘s Ste Knight takes a listen to an achingly beautiful album.

For those in the know, Steven Rutter‘s Firescope imprint is a goldmine of aural pleasure. With releases spanning from his own B12 moniker, through Miles AtmosphericDerek CarrMorphology and more, it is hard not to find music that resonates when perusing the label’s back catalogue.

With a focus on the more leftfield side of electronic music—think breakbeat-laden ambient techno and electro and you’re there—Rutter has joined forces with vocalist Bryonii to deliver an album that exceeds expectation while at the same time offering something that fans of the Firescope will find a little different to the label’s usual fayre.

This isn’t Bryonii‘s first outing on the label. She has previously featured on the B12 release, In Vain, in which the two offered what could now be viewed as a preview of what was to come with StarCrossed. If smokey vocals underpinned with slow-mo techno noodlings are your bag, then this release needs to be in your collection.

The album melds together organic and machine sounds, perfectly, with Rutter‘s skills in production meaning he can treat each track with the delicate touch it deserves.

We open with the Massive Attack-esque haunter, Juliet. The off-kilter drum programming provides the perfect foundation for Bryonii‘s stunning vocal delivery before we break out into 4/4 territory, a hint of eastern mystery swirling up through the mix like burning dhoop cones of rich Nag Champa.

LDLM features a synth not dissimilar to what one might imagine a haunted music box sounding like. As syncopated keys pluck away alongside shuffling percs, Bryonii pulls at the heart-strings again with a Nicole Dollanganger-like lilt.

Oxygen lifts the listener as though floating on air, with a sound reminiscent of Rae and Christian, before we are treated to the dystopian musings of Beltane Baby – a track that evokes Fatima Al Qadiri in its sino-grime stylings.

We follow in the gloaming with the twilight-friendly Obsidian, a track as dark as its nomenclature might suggest and one which can be likened to FKA Twigs in its production approach.

Room Without A View comes next and, with it, Bryonni cuts a swathe through the listener with a glut of beautiful melancholy. This was our favourite track from the album, our only lament being that it is also the shortest!

Infinty+1 offers something a little more upbeat in terms of the percussion, which is moulded into a skittering breakbeat over which Bryonii‘s ebbing vocals can wash. Chinese Whisper follows and, perhaps unsurprisingly, follows a sino-grime trajectory similar to Beltane Baby.

The penultimate track, and the final original track on the album, Sympathy Live features Bryonii yearning after a love on its way to being lost. Future Beat Alliance closes us out with his remix of the opening track, bringing us full circle.

For fans of 90s trip-hop and leftfield, including artists like Tricky, PJ Harvey, and Bjork, as well as contemporary musicians such as Black Atlass, Cocorosie, and FKA TwigsStarCrossed will be a delight to behold. You can grab your copy, here.

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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