Artist: Ruth

Ruth Ruth was the brainchild of Thierry Müller, a photographer and graphic artist from Paris who started to record music in the early 70s using guitars, keyboards, electronics and tape loops. At first he worked solo, but in the mid 70s he began to invite other musicians. A band called Ilitch was formed, playing abstract music that was completely instrumental and with a heavy use of electronics. Thierry drew his inspiration from bands and artists like Can, Brian Eno, Stockhausen, Pere Ubu, Neu, Velvet Underground and Kraftwerk. In the late 70s he began to work on a project called Ruth, this short-lived band released the lone album Polaroïd/Roman/Photo in 1985. The line up of Ruth was considerably bigger than that of Ilitch. This made it possible to create a more diverse sound.
The jittery "Thriller" with its brass arrangement, sound samples and angular guitars is the instrumental opener of the album. Not particularly catchy, rather bustling. "Polaroïd/Roman/Photo" is the relaxed title track. Simple synth tunes, mid-tempo percussion and a subdued trumpet mark this song. Whereas Thierry Müller brings the lyrics in a detached, declamatory way, Frédérique Cambon adds a girlish, sensual touch. The German band Can had always been a source of inspiration for Thierry Müller, hence the inclusion of the cover of their classic song "She brings the rain". The slow, synth-heavy "Misty mouse" features narrative vocals by Frédérique Lapierre, it has a bleak undertone. "Mabelle" is distinctly lighter, the fairly unimaginative lyrics are alternatively sung in English and French, with Christine Snabre and Mika Tessarech providing for the contrasting French background vocals. "Mots" is probably the most frivolous track on the album. Repetitive, flickering synth tunes, a steady beat and a trumpet form the basis. "Tu m'ennuis" does its name credit, this crawling, sluggish track indeed radiates a sense of boredom. In a fashionable way though, and despite the lenght of over ten minutes the narrative nature keeps it drawing your attention. The remaining four songs are remixes or demo versions, the instrumental version of "Mots" is tellingly called "Sans mots".
Polaroïd/Roman/Photo is no catchy synth-pop nor quirky post-punk or slick new wave although it encorporates elements of all these styles. It has a hint of avant-garde and jazz, is sensual, and reflects a 'do it yourself' mentality. It is another example of how fertile the 80s were, even when the music of that era wasn't always that accessible.

Nightpoter,, November 2008 (Netherlands)

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