It’s very difficult to place James DuRuz’s ’03 music in a genre or category. It would be easy to say ‘later Radiohead (Amnesiac) with some jazz experimentation and Tom Waits…perhaps?’ Whatever it is DuRuz wishes to express on his second independently-released album, “The Interlocuter,” he does so in a profoundly emotional and largely creative way. The problem comes, however, in the listening. Ranging from rock guitar muscle to sample snip madness, the album as a whole dances from the ultra-hip to the barely listenable.
Deeply atmospheric and quirky, like an episode of “Twin Peaks,” DuRuz explores different tones and moods like a variety box of aromatherapy incense–sometimes invigorating, sometimes relaxing, and occasionally stifling. Perhaps it takes a more sophisticated ear than mine to understand the tonal shifts and scratchy vocal samples. Much as this reviewer appreciates trance-inducing, synthesized sounds that are more mood-based than melodic, it is difficult to access DuRuz beyond the esoteric quality of each track.
All seventeen, unnamed tracks on “The Interlocuter,” display an ambitious creativity. Obviously, DuRuz has put meticulous craftsmanship into each song. He experiments with different sounds, samples, percussion, and guitar distortion. The tracks rarely feel repetitive, and he manages to make each distinct and complex enough to stand apart. He builds songs in layers, sometimes adding his voice as he slowly introduces more instrumentation.
Recalling New York blues-man Bright Eyes with his emotional outpourings when he does sing, DuRuz steers clear from clich* in his lyrics. Thankfully, cliches are avoided almost entirely. So often in the genre of electronic music cresting ocean waves and pan flutes set against synthesized choral arrangements pass for modern new age sonic beauty. DuRuz is entirely unique from the likes of Enigma, Jan Hammer or Deep Forest. However, the Radiohead allusions are everywhere. Whether it’s the otherworldly guitar riffs and swirling echoes of sound, or the computerized voice that appears on several tracks, DuRuz is clearly heavily influenced by the Grammy-nominated album “Kid A.”
The Fall performance of A Different Drum, Yale’s “different” sort of dance troupe, featured a piece of improvised dance set to DuRuz and his guitar, live. With his electric guitar and a digital looper, DuRuz looped and layered riffs over each other as each dancer rose to perform. It was an interesting and eclectic piece, more so for the live music than the dancing. DuRuz was hypnotic as he played, reminiscent of an Indian snake-charmer as each dancer writhed and coiled around him. A reviewer labeled the piece “sexist” and “a perverse male fantasy” (or something like that), presumably because DuRuz seemed to manipulate the female dancers in a “Dance, lady, dance!” kind of misogyny.
It should be a credit to DuRuz, however, that his live performance is so engrossing. However inaccessible he may be as a recorded artist, when given the chance to present a visual as well as aural show, he is an eccentric and fascinating talent.