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"DIN Mag reviews Torus - Torus EP"

Like the outlet that you’re currently reading, Sonic Router exists as an online platform for the discussion and support of good electronic music. It’s been very consistent at doing just that for three years and has firmly established itself as a reliable source for finding remarkable sounds that people have made or manipulated through electronic devices. That’s pretty much the only constant though, as these electronic sounds, as so frequently discussed on these music opinion channels, are getting increasingly harder to define, with umbrella terms like ‘bass music’ not really cutting it any more. We kinda know what its getting at, but it’s a bit of a snooze and we’ve sort of evolved as listeners to enjoy the wider, gorgeously foggy picture. What makes sites like Sonic Router everlasting is their appreciation of detail and the music as a whole. So as Sonic Router makes its first foray into being a publisher of sound as a bona fide record label, its fitting to open with a producer like Torus, whose debut EP fits happily inside and outside that inescapable ‘bass music’ realm. More importantly, its a testament to the weight and substance of the smallest details that make up a whole that’s bigger and more relevant because of them.

18-year-old producer Torus has released music before under the name ‘Deadstokdonut’. Appearing on Lowriders Recordings’ ‘Beatitude’ compilation, ‘Television Spleen’ was a crackle-soaked lo-fi production that appreciated space and drone as much as fuzzy bass and the percussion of codeine-infused hip hop. Much of that remains in Torus, but there’s a greater personal warmth and glow, apparent immediately in EP opener ‘Blurred’ as the soulful melody that drives the piece is washed with field recordings, found samples, delay and rich sporadic fuzz. It’s the sort of fuzz you’d associate with Mr Oizo’s angry Korg injections on ‘Analog Worms Attack’, and it’s similarly an homage to early US hip hop, but here it’s re-contextualised as a small element of menace within a more personal and reflective soundscape.

Discussing his work as Torus, Joeri Woudstra is open about his desire to create an environment, and how that’s influenced by the varied locations in his hometown, The Hague, in the west of the Netherlands. “We kinda have all the environments you could think of put together,” he says. “We’ve got the beach, we got forests and woods, we got plains and we’ve got downtown [...] In my music I move away from the crowdedness of the city to create a more natural and organic environment.”

On ‘Cavemonsters are Kind’ we’re given a more explicit introduction to these environments, as howling wind accompanies mournful tones (think of the beginning of Portishead’s ‘Roads’, but windy) and the beat is little more than the fading heartbeat of a kickdrum and scratchy recordings with a refreshing verisimilitude. These ambiguous noises, be they rustling leaves, crumbling dirt, scrunched paper or whatever it is are given an unusual precedence in the mix and sound like they’ve barely been treated, if at all. These organic details are arranged so each piece is littered, but not cluttered with them and are remarkable at transforming the skeletal outlines of a song into a natural environment for the ears and mind. ‘Forests’ takes this notion even deeper with a single field recording dominating the mix, with keys, percussion, that fuzzy bass and some more surprising electronic treats seeping in very slowly, as if invited, reluctantly at first, by a hesitant gatekeeper.

The second half of the EP is more beat focused, referencing both the moody Bristol trip-hop of the nineties, Dilla’s wonkier work (I am a little wary of comparing anything to Dilla, but with melodies this soulful and titles like ‘Vocaldonuts’ you kind of have to) and even some of the autonomic stuff explored by dBridge & Instra:mental. ‘Knocks’ is driven by keys that wander over a spacious, smoky click that eventually gets swallowed up in fog and crumbling samples, not to far away from those that bookend some of the tracks on Nicolas Jaar’s excellent ‘Space is Only Noise’. Likewise, a hazily introspective melody navigates Torus’ sonic aura on ‘Monday Masses’ before falling into the cave-like muddiness of ‘Vocaldonuts’. There isn’t really a moment in this record where you feel like you’re listening to a single standalone tune, and that’s a feeling that’s very rare.

“I listened to hip hop a lot,” says Woudstra with a speckle of uncertainty at the beginning of Nikola Zecevic’s illustrative short film about the beatmaker, and, when stripped of its atmosphere, its illusions and sonic explorations, the raw skeleton of Torus’ debut is indeed just that: hip hop. But it’s that atmosphere and wavering in and out of genre structures that makes this, and the equally hard-to-define music covered by Sonic Router on the regular, so good. To even attempt at categorising these sounds removes that magic that producers like Torus have worked so meticulously to create. We’ve reached a point I think where it’s best to just dive in eyes closed and get lost. Right now, I could not recommend a better place to begin - DIN Mag

"Resident Advisor Reviews Torus - Torus EP: 3,5 / 5"

If you know Oli Marlow and his Sonic Router blog's tastes, it's no surprise the first release from his eponymous label would be something amorphous and synthy. Long a champion of skweee and other between-genre bass music experiments, Marlow disseminates a cassette from Dutch producer Torus, whose beats indeed sound something like hollowed-out, drugged-up skweee, the irreverent playfulness replaced by a sombre naturalism borrowed from LA producers Shlohmo and Teebs.

"Blurred" plays the part perfectly, the pitter-patter of improvised percussion, crackling basslines and melodies that sound just slightly out of place. It's also really, really pretty. "Cavemonsters Are Kind" gets by on a torturously slow pendulum swing suspended above a valley of reverb and sub, while "Forests" slows things down even further to the point that you can't tell if the rhythmic elements are making a beat or are just happy accidents. It's striking how much Torus' music leans on the sub-bass but never feels imposing: a track like "Monday Masses" feels skeletal and looming all at once, filling in the empty white space with invisible low-frequencies that we feel but don't really hear. Things come to a head with the short and hallucinogenic "Vocaldonuts," which filters a sample through an amniotic heartbeat to create the most conventional thing here.

We're treated to two remixes from SR favourites, who seem to try to contextualize Torus' floaty music into something more recognizable. Belgian producer Dynooo contorts "Forests" into a crunchy, industrial thing, like a techno track bunched up and crinkled, while British bit-crusher Slugabed expands the majestic purview of "Vocaldonuts" into something audacious and, of course, neurotically twitchy.

3,5 / 5 - RA

"Fact Reviews Torus - Torus EP: 4 / 5"

Long-standing tastemaker blog Sonic Router inaugurates its label with this EP from 18-year old Dutch producer Torus. And what an unexpected and fascinating way to kick things off – not least because, if you want it in physical form, you’re going to end up with a limited edition cassette.

As a format, though, the cassette is oddly fitting for this music. Compared to your average slab of polyvinyl it’s small, anachronistic, delicate – not as physically imposing, certainly not as demanding on your attention. Just so with this EP. The ultra-detailed maximalism of much of the post-Dilla scene these days too often, in spite of shouting in a loud and articulate fashion, manages to say almost nothing at all. Joeri Woudstra takes things the other way: these tracks are subdued, subtle – blink and you’ll miss them.

That’s not to say they lack detail, though: ‘Blurred’ and ‘Cavemonsters Are Kind’ both trade in a slow-build dynamic, gradually accruing intricate melodic and harmonic layers until they reach saturation point. It’s neatly executed, but the trajectory begins to feel a bit too predictable after a while, its end point too inevitable.

Elsewhere things get more interesting. The diminutive ‘Forests’ is a highlight: opening with the sound of footsteps moving through a snowy wilderness (field recordings feature heavily throughout, reworked into loose rhythmic loops or left to breathe), its baroque-tinged piano line weaves around a hip-hop shuffle so gentle it practically sleepwalks its way to an abrupt end. ‘Knocks’ has a fractionally more determined gait but is still abstract in the extreme, its bitcrushed synth melody woozily coalescing into some kind of semi-coherent counterpoint. The richer sonics of ‘Vocaldonuts’ are propelled along with just the slightest hint of swing, but still you feel like it’s holding something back – and that’s a large part of the appeal.

Shot through these tracks is the sense that you’re hearing the results of microscopic interactions: tiny objects brought into moments of friction and collision just about visible through a powerful lense. And all of it – the slightly fastidious melodies, the warm but muted basslines – are subsumed to the kickdrum, soft as a feather but scooping the colour out of its surroundings with every dull thud.

The package is rounded off with a couple of remixes: Dynooo transforms ‘Forests’ into an oddly unsettling tunnel vision loop, sonically detached from the original but thriving on the kind of micro-tweaks consistent with the EP’s barely-there aesthetic. Slugabed, on the other hand, pushes ‘Vocaldonuts’ in precisely the full-on direction we’d otherwise avoided, failing to contribute much of worth other than a bit of textural flab and bundles of energy. In spite of there being so little here, there’s almost nothing to add – the definition of concision.

Angus Finlayson

4 / 5 - Fact magazine

"Sonic Router launches record label with Torus"

The inimitable Sonic Router establishment has entered the fray with their first label release, the Torus EP, on Sonic Router Records. The Dilla-inspired producer hails from The Hague and offers six slabs of woozy ambient collaged with heavily swung drums. The difference in his work may be a sunken, wafting aesthetic that adds power to each percussive hit, clearing the morning fog with crisp, unwavering clarity to show more sunlight than grey skies.
His musicality is on display here as well, with tracks like “Forests” and “Vocaldonuts” really striving for something more than your average “wonky” melody from a Californian beatmaker. As Mark Richardson wrote regarding the debut Boards of Canada LP, “Their chords were typically gauzy ambient, their beats head-nodding downtempo. Properly speaking, they invented nothing. And yet, the parts had never come together quite like this.”
Torus makes music that combines many well-known tropes, most obvious being Brainfeeder-inspired hip hop and Digitalis/Spectrum Spools indebted ambiance. The peculiar aspect is that the music does not sound like these separate influences, but resonates much more as the sum of its parts. And that sum is reaching towards music that could be of yet, unexplored.
- The Kort


Torus - Goodbye - Self Released

Torus - Torus EP (SR001) - Released by Sonic Router
available for purchase on itunes, spotify, beatport & more.

Montgomery Clunk - Enter The Wardrobe (Torus Remix) - Error Broadcast

Soulja Boy - Turn My Swag On (Torus Bootleg) - Self Released

Cavemonsters Are Kind got airplay on BBC Radio 1

Forests got airplay on BBC Radio 6



Joeri Woudstra, who hails from the Netherlands, released his debut, self-titled EP, on the Sonic Router imprint, on the 12th March 2012. 6 tracks long it’s a deft exploration of mood that sets a torrent of found samples, ambient swirls and little wayward riffs to post-Dilla drum patterns. It’s hazy, crackly hangover music. A collection of tracks that manage to sound archaic before they’ve even been mixed down, fusing Woudstra’s unique approach to production with a sense of isolation and introspection. Torus tries to blend in all possible influences all around him, not trying to be limited by certain expectations, creating moods and environments

Listen to a small indication of what torus' dj-set sounds like over here: