Sex and Persuasion: Ruby’s “Paraffin” (1995)

A menacing grind of factory-churning beats, "Paraffin" is Ruby's chilling account of love and sex, female praying mantis-style.

Ruby’s erotically-charged shuffle of downtempo grooves, distorted guitar breaks and menacing sways of dark, curdled jazz opened up a new vein of post-feminist angst on their debut album, Salt Peter (1995). Scottish singer and songwriter Lesley Rankine, who had just signed off on her duties as vocalist for the bluesy thrash punk outfit Silverfish, traded in the shrieks and screams for a voluptuous timbre of deep, sensual warmth that still belied the bitterness of her past musical incarnation.

Along with producer Mark Walk (who comprised one half of the band), Rankine explored the more feminine regions of machine-made music, the beats of Salt Peter mired in a sultry air of sex and persuasion amidst the greasy, metallic scrapings of fractured hip-hop rhythms. The album’s most unusual number was the eerie, organ-grinding dirge of “Paraffin”, a nearly abstract, broken narrative of a contemptuous woman laying a veiled sexual-trap for an unsuspecting and naïve suitor. Featuring a factory-rhythm of beats which sound like the looped and treated sample of a very angry woman pounding her fist against a bolted, wooden door, Rankine icily delivers a question of spine-cracking fear: “Are we all wrapped up, fit for the kill?”