Very much emblematic of the King Deluxe aesthetic, Runner by Muta (Denver-based music and philosophy student Cliff Harris) twists and turns through thirty-four, seizure-gripped minutes of synth-infested landscapes with a smattering of collapsing hip-hop rhythms in tow. For his full-length Muta debut, Harris draws inspiration from the 1976 sci-fi opus Logan's Run, a film about a young man fleeing home to avoid scheduled termination (hence the album title).
“Cursed Words” sputters and convulses awake before jerking to attention with some stumbling, post-Autechre-ian rhythms. Without pause, lo-fi splatter of blips and bloops enters the picture in “Chipped,” after which the Muta style comes into clearer focus during “Elixer,” “Lock Jaw,” and “Misfit Toys” when swirling synth patterns and downtempo funk rhythms roll out with greater control and coherence. Smothered in hiss, the two burbling parts of “All Impulse” carve jaunty pathways through hyperactive rhythmscapes, while hints of acid and dubstep sneak into the wobbly “Misfit Toys,” perhaps the most club-friendly of the cuts on offer.
In one sense, the film turns out to be a good fit for Muta's sound, even if his wonky hip-hop is decades removed from the stale sci-fi treatments that root the film so squarely in the ‘70s. It's the film's futuristic vibe that proves the fertile ground out of which Runner grows, with Muta's nine-track collection a fast-moving exercise in retro-futurism heavy on synthetic micro-flutter.