Reviews & Remixes
Press is Press.   It's the Thought that Counts.
Down Team Up: Give and Take (believeinbilly CD17, 2010):
 Down Team Up brings us this album, Give and TakeBack in the day, and that day being somewhere around the early 90′s, there was this big push to make electronica albums. When I say electronica albums, I mean works that were not built for the dance floor, more for just listening. They were works that kind of had something to say, encapsulated in computer music delight where one would put the headphones on at home and just enjoy the journey. Bands like Underworld and The Orb did this surprisingly well. They’d play out, too, but they’d change up the songs for a more dance-inspired set.

Recently, this sort of electronic album has seemed to fall out of taste ( or at least I have a hard time finding them) for more club-inspired stuff. So it’s nice when you come across an album like Give and Take where you still can have that audio storytelling for all those times when you are not at the club, going to the club, thinking about the club or working at the speed of the club.

The Album is pretty much one complete set that’s broken up into tracks, and I would hope that the artist would produce a continuous mix version, soon. The songs move pretty seamlessly through thoughts and themes creating a rather enjoyable sort of story.

Do pick up a copy, as it does work really well as a summer album, like they said!

-   Eric Fescenmeyer's blog.



Backyard Mysteries - by Mental Health Consumer (2010, test tube, tube200):

When you spend a lot of time hunting for new ambient, shoegaze, IDM, and drone (a necessary part of my life for the past three years), you tend to develop a preference for material with an immediate—or at least out-of-the-ordinary—hook. So when I stumbled upon Mental Health Consumer’s Backyard Mysteries during a recent deep-blogspace expedition, I was especially interested by the biographical blurb that accompanied the requisite pirated hyperlink:

“Brian Ruskin is a Ph.D in Geology (Stratigraphy branch) and at the same time a musician and producer from Pittsburgh, USA”

Maybe it’s a side effect of too many hours spent staring, eyes glazed, at Ableton’s “arrangement view,” but I tend to listen to music with stratification in mind—the way in which different layers of sound correspond and interact. This kind of striated approach can be either wholly reductive (“Ah, the different instruments seem to occupy separate aural spaces”) or incredibly revelatory, depending entirely on the music in question, and the production and arrangement that went into it.

As such, I was naturally curious to find out what kind of sonic stratification would be at play in the work of a bonafide geologist. In keeping with the academic nature of the material, I took some fairly thorough notes:

-On the whole, Backyard Mysteries tenders a nice blend of fashionable laptop jockeying and, dare I say, peripatetic Scandinavian ambient (think: aspects of Riceboy Sleeps, Mum).

-The album is deeply reliant on the shifting temperament of natural sounds (waves lapping, dried leaves crunching underfoot, branches swaying and snapping) that have been reconstituted in a digital headspace—one which alternates between chilly electronic aloofness and amniotic warmth.

- Songs like “Cold Rain Turns Green to Grey”—which you might expect, given its name, to be among the most sterile and dreary tracks on the record—serve to assure the listener that Mental Health Consumer is decidedly not synth-phobic, and features a bouncy, balmy synth loop as its most prominent element (or stratum, you might say).

- Backyard Mysteries could arguably be described as “fossiliferous IDM,” both for the delicate, half-exposed sonic details embedded in its gurgling ambience, and for the calcified remnants of Mental Health Consumer’s musical progenitors that occasionally percolate to the surface (there’s still life in them bones).

-“Sliding Lines of Sight” rides an ethereal drone straight into the arms of a boisterous, hand-perc-heavy beat. The song is Mental Health Consumer at his most mental—a shizophonic sandwich of effects-chain irreverence that dissolves into the found-sound bustle of a crowded café (also included: deep-bass stabs and skittering hi-hats lifted straight from FM hip-pop). Erratically, this momentary reinsertion of organic noise is followed by the four-minute asylum clang-fest that is “Sleep Cycle.”

- If the record were dronier, LA’s Nudge might be a useful reference point, if for no other reason than the fact that Nudge, comparably, volley between beat-driven and beatless compositions with similar aplomb.

-Ultimately, however, it’s not as deeply-layered as you might expect. To my ears, Backyard Mysteries is less explicitly stratigraphic than the staggeringly dense Our Sleepless Forest album, or any given White Rainbow jam. It’s definitely appropriately mysterious, though, and the most “backyard-y” thing I’ve probably heard since Secret Colors’ Reflections entered my life (believe it or not, I knew the music before the man, and was pleasantly surprised to discover how many friends we shared between us).

Backyard Mysteries is a record that feels spacious and unconfined, while at the same time packed with a bevy of interesting, beard-stroking decisions. There are shades of a more sinister Isirarri on “Reminagined Toy,” and opener Emmaus is an oddball, with tons of unusually juxtaposed sounds, including faint glimmers of coquettish, early-‘80s Vangelis-ness."   - Jason Baxter for The Stranger, Seattle, WA.


Ambia - by Mental Health Consumer (2009, Clinical Archives CA247)

"A collection of fuzzy drones, frayed and fluttering rhythms and often lovely, hazy melodies. A fair amount more colorful than its drab cover art implies. Score yet another one for the the DIY team. If I’d had this on tape during the nineties, it might have been one of my favorites. I’d probably have written MHC’s founder Brian Ruskin a fan letter. You heard it here first: obscurity is a virtue."

-C.Reider, VUZH Music Blog


"5 stars out of 5...This has an ambient feel without the boredom. Beautiful. I love 'Full Tilt Traveler'".

     -Snow, reviewer on Internet Archive


This isn't really a review, but a screenshot from Internet Archive, where during a magical week in May 2009, "Ambia" was in the top 10 netlabel downloads and all audio downloads, music or otherwise!  Testiment to the reputation of the prolific Clinical Archives netlabel, but also a proud moment for mental health consumer!



These Are Your Options by AViD (2009, Bump Foot, foot105)

" it kinda reminds me of a cross between early Aphex Twin & Autechre?"  -DJ Kira, via


Promises by AViD (2009, Believe In Billy Records):

"I wanted to let you know as well that I've been listening to the first
disc of the 2CD set you gave me, and I think you certainly weren't kidding when you said how varied it was! There are times when I'll hear something and think, "Wow, this sounds like a Dissolved record" and then a minute later it's reminding me of some ambient stuff Instinct might have released back in the early 90s."

-Brian Grainger, Milieu 





Additional production by Brian Ruskin as AViD, except where noted...


2 Bit Pie:          Little Things

Tori Amos:         Strange Little Girl 4:31

Laura Bailey      Love Taught Me

BT:                    The Revolution (teleform remix)4:39

Gustavo Cerati:   Cosas Imposibles (impossible day mix)5:25

Chemical Brothers:

                          Not another Drugstore/Under the Influence

Chemical Brothers: Star Guitar(supernova remix) 5:58

Coldplay:           Don't Panic (buoyancy mix)    4:37

Coldplay:           See You Soon

Coldplay:           Warning Sign

The Cure:          Close to me/Inbetween days 8:14

The Cure:          Cut Here

The Dandy Warhols: Bohemian Like You

The Dandy Warhols: We USed to be Friends

Fatboy Slim:       Retox

Folk Implosion:   Natural One (unnaturalone mix)4:59

Fluke:                 Bulley (bulley remix)

Fluke:                 Groovy Feeling (at least make compare)    9:29

Fluke                  V6

Genesis:             Keep it Dark                        5:27

Groove Armada:    Superstylin'/Final Shakedown       

Jamiroquai:       Supersonic

jUSTIN cREDIBLE:  Energy Flow

Keane:              Is it any wonder?

Knapsack:          Shape of the Fear             4:53

Moby:            xtreme Ways                        4:42

New Order:         Regret (club is flooded)

Paul Oakenfold:   Ready, Steady Go

The Orb:            Little Fluffy Clouds (wahwah dancefloor)4:02

Orbital:              Frenetic (114 inverse mix)

Orbital:              Halcyon (iconic mix)

Poor Old Lu:      Bliss Is (harder than you thought)  4:34

Radiohead:        pack'd like sardines in a crush'd tin box/

                          where i end and you begin           5:28

Radiohead:        Idiotique

The Rapture:      Olio

REM:                 King of Comedy (c.t.b.c.i.e.o.m.m.s.l.) 5:27

U2:                     Zoo Station (open cages mix)        4:16

Underworld:       Bruce Lee (lifekid)                 4:31

Underworld:       Dinosaur Adventure 3D/King of Snake 6:53

Underworld:       8 Ball      (dark and happy mix)          8:06

Underworld:       Faxed Invitation

Underworld:       Luetin/Airtowel (throw in the airtowel)   7:59

Underworld:       Momove (slow catalyst)              5:02

Underworld:       River of Bass (co-produced with Gambit,            Greg Thelen)  

Underworld:       Rowla (crow lane mix)               4:13

Underworld:       Rowla (mix 2)                       5:12

Underworld:       Something like a mama (guitartalk)  7:18

Underworld:       Tiny Clicks (bigger beats)