Diving Deeper into Rian Treanor

Making new rules in rave

Rian Treanor is a celebrated experimental producer from Sheffield. It’s plain to see how Treanor’s musical upbringing manifests in all he does; every beat is finessed to perfection and every drum-sequence fits together like an Ikea flat pack. Unfolding a vision of shapes cut out of 80’s club music and ambient futuristic rhythms, Treanor serves something both familiar and never before heard. It’s an artistic decision to use the 30 year old musical production software ‘Max/MSP’. It has a graphical interface where the user can move objects around and connect bits with wires, making it more visual and versatile than a linear programme. Treanor has built many bespoke sequencers himself in order to do more intricate work; the open ended nature of the programme eliciting a serendipitous discovery of sound.

“That’s probably my aim, to come up with something that’s unusual to me. I would say something like, ‘It’s weird dance music.’ But it’s not weird at all. I think it’s quite formulaic. Using these sounds that have already existed for 20, 30 years, and using some elements that have existed for ten years. It’s absorbing things that already exist and returning them together in different combinations”

Rian Treanor in conversation with Resident Advisor

To be clear, we all know mixing old songs with new beats is standard stuff. Much of the music we hear on the radio samples old reggae classics or 80’s pop riffs; but Treanor bravely experiments with musical oppositions to craft something that doesn’t conform to the rules of any genre. It’s innovative. Some tracks, such as Good News (released in 2018 on album RAVEDIT), are faster and busier – they go straight to the limbic system, prodding it with rhythmic fingers that evoke old garage tracks. Others, like B2 (released in 2015 on his first album A Rational Tangle) are more ambient, with seemingly gauche, unexpected rhythms that reveal a tenderness. All provide a compelling mood trip; iconoclastic but still at home in the club.

If you think the listening is challenging, it’s not a bad thing. Treanor is rebellious and disruptive – overwriting what we think we know about music. One fan commented on a music video: “Just because you don’t hear the rhythm doesn’t mean someone else can’t”. It’s true. And that disclaimer doesn’t come with any of the mainstream club music; evidently Treanor’s aim to make something truly original has been achieved. There is a paradox in this work and he has successfully transcended it.

Treanor’s debut album ATAXIA will be released by Planet Mu on March 15
Catch his live set at Submerge Nights 2 on March 9th at Loco Klub

Natasha Batorijs
21th Feb 2019