Matias Aguayo’s consistently compelling and challenging label, Cómeme, has a knack for the off-kilter and inventive, two traits present in ample portions on Romanian producer Borusiade’s enigmatic Jeopardy. Born Miruna Boruzescu, Borusiade is a Romanian DJ now living in Berlin, whose tastes run from new wave and industrial to classical, house and electro. As a result, it’s no surprise her own productions are so consistently surprising.
Jeopardy’s five tracks are, by turns, brooding, gothic and even a bit silly, with dark disco basslines and haunted-house synth chords bringing to mind giallo movies and arcade games about jumping on ghosts in creaky castles. An air of soft horror prevails this record, at times wry and comic but sometimes genuinely (if gently) unnerving. "Spellbound Surrender" seethes with slo-mo tension, evoking a soundtrack redolent of campy, John Carpenter-esque horror and sickly Michael Mann-style sleaze. Abbreviated with a pensive, almost hesitant bassline, the track’s broiling synths and 4/4 kicks combine to create a creepy stillness that should be welcome to anyone who enjoyed Visonia and Dopplereffekt’s sinister classic, "Die Reisen." The result falls somewhere on the spectrum between head-nodding chug and sickly paranoia; this is the music you’d hear in your head, while on a cold drive through ’70s-era East Berlin, carrying no identification and a trunk filled with bloodied human hands.
On "Haunted by Flashlights", the steady rumble of bass is emboldened by a gorgeous, detuned synth wobble. Distant congas add their noise to the analog din, giving the track a spooky sheen—there's a sense of mock alarm that’s not horrorcore dread so much as Halloween party album. Similarly, there’s joy to be found in the digital guitar noodling, along with the roiling bass and cryptic percussion, of "Rescue." In fact, the record boasts quite a few mysterious percussive elements; one becomes faintly aware of claps and triangles that arrive and depart like cautious party guests, momentarily intruding on private moments in unlocked rooms.
There is here a playfulness that sounds charmingly homemade in places, belying the complexity of the overlapping sounds and textures within. Never is this truer than with title track, "Jeopardy," on which premium squelch bass is supplemented with doom-laden lyrics, graced by eerie portents uttered with a deadpan drawl. Lines like “weird noise/a powerful wave like a whirlwind of sound/it hit me to the ground” or “the ghost of your presence still visits uninvited” and, most memorably of all, “I know I heard your voice/like a phantom frequency erupting with the news of a dying world/it’s shameful to say that while others struggle for their lives/I fight to forget your eyes”.
On the face of it, this should all come off as ridiculous—and to some extent it does— but the charm of the record is wrapped up in this heightened, even portentous style. In the end, despite (or perhaps because of) all the drama, Jeopardy’s five track run-time is consistently bewildering, but never, ever boring.