Vex Ruffin – Crash Course EP

January 01, 1970

(Stones Throw)


Vex Ruffin, who hails from Chino Hills, near L.A., isn’t
exactly a household name yet, although on the basis of this 7-song debut
mini-album it’s pretty easy to hear the unique qualities that prompted Stones
Throw mainman Peanut Butter Wolf to pick up the phone upon hearing Ruffin’s
demo and set in motion the process of bringing the cat to the masses. Ruffin,
aka Beastmaster, brews up a batch of postpunk-tilting tracks infused with a
decided hip-hop sensibility – particularly in the vocals, delivered in
alternating declamatory/sneering tones, more chanted than traditionally sung –
which no doubt befits a man who claims that in high school his favorite artists
were The Cure and DMX.


The postpunk element is pervasive, however. Standout track
“I’m Creative,” with its hypnotic, dubby vibe and Rottenesque, Cockney-inflected
voice, could pass for a long lost Pop Group or early PiL track, although
neither group ever mustered this level of asphalt-rattling basssssss, and the beats bear a depthlessness that is one of Ruffin’s signatures. The lyrics are deliciously, inscrutably paranoid as


“I need a challenge, I’m creative, I’m creative
I want balance, I’m creative, I’m creative
Get away from me, stay away from me
Get away from me, stay away”


Meanwhile the low grinding bass, abrasive guitar and
pounding metronomic drums of “My Mind” sounds uncannily like early Joy
Division. Hold that thought – “Man With A Plan” is similarly doomy, steeped in
the same type of dark, goth foreboding that launched a thousand Mancunian
trenchcoats. Methinks Peter Hook might find a creative kindred spirit within
these daunting grooves:





On paper, such a description might not suggest a project as
original or compelling as The Crash
actually is. Trust the source: these tracks contain deadly hooks
that sink deep, like stealth explosives, and they come back to haunt you when
you least expect it in both your ambulatory and nocturnal hours (the titular
tagline in “I’m Creative” is delivered so relentlessly you’ll be begging your
therapist for an exorcism of the insidious tune). Peanut Butter Wolf himself recently
messaged BLURT and advised that if we were diggin’ the Ruffin EP, “wait until
you hear the full length,” due sometime early next year. Indeed. Hey Wolf – we
can’t wait.


Creative,” “Man With A Plan” FRED MILLS

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