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Esa ruoho press image - 20.1.2017 - 37.jpg
Background information
Birth nameEsa Juhani Ruoho
Also known asLackluster, Esa Ruoho, XLLV, Can'o'Lard, HLER
Born (1978-10-26) 26 October 1978 (age 40)
OriginHelsinki, Finland
GenresIDM, ambient, downtempo, tracker-music, chiptune, chillout
InstrumentsComputer, laptop, synthesizer, tracker, sequencer
Years active1994–present
LabelsdeFocus, Merck Records, U-Cover Records, SLSK Records, Psychonavigation Records
Associated actsKökö and the Köks

Esa Ruoho (born 26 October 1978 in Helsinki, Finland), better known as Lackluster, is a Finnish electronic music producer and performer from Kontula, Helsinki. He is also known as Esa Ruoho, XLLV, Can'O'Lard and Kökö and the Köks.[1]

Ruoho has lived most of his life in Helsinki, Finland, but has also, since 2000, travelled to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada for six months in 2000–2001,[2] and also spent time in Dublin, Ireland.[3]

Musical career[edit]

Esa Ruoho started composing electronic music in the mid-1990s and, after 2000 has been releasing recorded music (remixes, compilation-tracks, original work) on dozens of labels, full-length CDs on such labels as deFocus records (Great Britain), Merck Records (Miami, Florida, US),[4] U-cover (Belgium),[5] Psychonavigation Records (Dublin, Ireland), New-Speak Records (Stockholm, Sweden).[1] He has since 2007 worked with SLSK Records from San Francisco and Nice And Nasty from Ireland, the San Francisco-based netlabel TwoCircles Records and the Argentinian netlabel Igloo-Rec, and the American label JellyFish Frequency Recordings.[6]

Lackluster was formerly known as the chiptune musician, Distance, part of the demoscene groups Orange, Monotonik, Calodox, The Digital Artists, The Planet of Leather Moomins (TPOLM), FLO and Satori.[7]

Esa also ran a Bulletin Board System, Cloudcity, from 1992 to 2000 – utilizing HectoBBS (1992), SuperBBS (1992–1994) and PCBoard (1994–2000) BBS Software.[8]


Esa has collaborated with Heikki Lindgren since 2018, forming a duo called HLER (Heikki Lindgren, Esa Ruoho), creating fully improvised Ambient Drone music using a rare Peruvian synth.

Live performances[edit]

Since 2000, Ruoho has played numerous musical performances as Lackluster, Esa Ruoho and HLER in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, England, Austria, Poland, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania and Ukraine. Current tally: 154 live performances (as of 1 August 2018).[6][9] Ruoho has also played as warm-up support for numerous famous electronic musicians, such as Biosphere, Petri Kuljuntausta, The Orb, Mixmaster Morris, Brothomstates, Aleksi Perälä/Astrobotnia/Ovuca, Cylob, Wevie Stonder, Machinedrum, Jimmy Edgar, Move D, Jimi Tenor and Bad Loop.

Media collaborations[edit]

  • Utopias of Helsinki, a web report for Helsingin Sanomat "What would Helsinki be like now, if all of the grandiose city-utopias of the 1960s had come to fruition?" (composition)(2001)[10]
  • Pauli Ojala (a Finnish graphics artist) on "13/10/99", a short music video which was presented at the Assembly 2001 Wild demo competition, placing 4th.[11]
  • Wilma Mehtonen (a Finnish choreographer) "Ulottumaton Symbioosi" (2002).
  • Halcyon (demogroup) DVD, providing in-menu composition (2002)
  • Wilma Mehtonen "T.43" modern dance-performance (2003).
  • Teemu Niskanen (a Finnish photographer) on a web-slideshow project (2006).[12]
  • Thuyen Nguyen: "The Most Powerful Person in the World" – 16 May 2007.[13]
    • Synopsis: A love letter to video games.
  • Luca Barbeni (designer) on "dune.8081", a flash website, 2007.[14]
  • Mari Helisevä (painter) on "Luontaisenkaltaisia", an art installation featuring a musical mixture of kitchen-recorded materials, displayed at Maa-Tila, Helsinki, Finland, from 9 to 20 January 2008.[15]
  • Thuyen Nguyen: "Same as it ever was" – 29 February 2008.
    • Synopsis: Video game critics use the same arguments against gaming as they did for movies, television, comics, books.[16]
  • Jonatan Söderström: Retro 4, 2008 [17]
  • scheltema/van beem NEPCO/ILC: "Headfooters", 2008 [18]
    • Synopsis: Cutesy headfoot monsters jump around to the sound of "Hugytrak" off of Lackluster: Slice (released on U-Cover)
  • Antti Mutta/Pelaaja-Lehti (Journalist) on "Korg DS-10", a review, Pelaaja-Lehti September/2009 (2009)[19][20]
  • Toisissa Tiloissa: "Suuri Koralliriutta" – 21 April 2018.
    • Synopsis: An improvised dance performance open to the public organised by Toisissa Tiloissa and Kontula Electronic, held at the Youth House of Kontula. [21]

Other interests[edit]

Esa also has a striking interest in the thoughts, discoveries and concepts of Walter Russell, Buckminster Fuller, Viktor Schauberger, Wilhelm Reich, John Keely, John Bedini and any related nature and intuition-based information, such as Earthship technology, the Dymaxion map, Dymaxion Chronofile, and Biomimicry. In 2008 Ruoho became a lifetime Friend of The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust, and also a supporting Citizen of The Solar Village.[6] Ruoho / Lackluster is also a hemp, medical marijuana, cannabis activist.[6][22] Kiva and Kickstarter and other crowdfunding methods also fit in this category.

Interests and releases[edit]

  • In 2005, Esa released "Zero Million Barrels of Oil Per Day" on Monotonik netlabel as a MP3, as a statement of intent for the planet to reach for alternative energy technologies.[1][23]
  • In 2005, Esa released "What You Want Isn't What You Need" on Newspeak Records on CD, the linenotes state "Please stop legislation telling us what natural supplements, vitamins and nutrients we can eat and what we cannot. Please stop codex alimentarius." This was Ruoho's comment on Codex Alimentarius.[24]
  • In 2007, Esa released "Repulsine EP" on SLSK Records on CD, a tribute to Viktor Schauberger, with artwork containing photographs of Viktor Schauberger's face and imagery of the Repulsine device patents and assorted photography.[1]
  • In 2007, Esa released "The Stationary Trout Ep" on Part2 Records as MP3, the name inspired from Viktor Schauberger and the writings of Callum Coats. "The Stationary Trout Ep" also contained a song called "Monsanto Corporation", which was Ruoho's take on the works of Monsanto Company.[1]
  • In 2009, Esa released "Cold Trail EP" on 23 March, the 20th anniversary of the Pons-Fleischmann Cold Fusion announcement.
  • In 2009, Esa contributed "Liop Mehch't! Nosp Misc Kir" to Axis of Amity, a Centrifuge compilation for raising money for the Macmillan Cancer Support-charity, the track title, however, is reversed, referring to Rick Simpson's THC Hemp Oil cure for cancer.[1]
  • In 2009, Esa photographed and recorded portions of his visit to the Steorn Waterways Demonstration Centre in Dublin, Ireland, and became the first composer of electronica to openly associate with the global Free Energy community.[25]
  • In 2010, continuing with the electrical theme, Ruoho was commissioned to provide background music for the Finero company – an electrical test and measurement equipment and software manufacturing electronics company.
  • In 2010, Esa photographed his visit to the Nikola Tesla exhibit at TKK, Espoo, Finland.[25]
  • In 2010, Esa photographed and recorded portions of his visit to the Viktor Schauberger Museum in Bad Ischl, Austria, and also the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia, further cementing his connection with the Free Energy community.[25]
  • In 2011, Esa contributed "Fgxjklö" to Truth Serum, a compilation by I, Absentee records, for raising money for UNICEF and The Humane Society of the United States.[1]
  • In 2011, Esa publicized the "Dynaspheres for Europe"-project by naming a track "Dynaspheres" and making it available freely (with a link to the donation-page) on SoundCloud.
  • In 2011, Esa publicized the "Buckminster Fuller Dome Home restoration"-project by naming a track "Be the Trim Tab" and making it available freely (with a link to the donation-page) on SoundCloud.
  • In 2011, Esa contributed '5881777 Apparatus For Producing Ozone" to Tesla 155, a Zimmer Records&Co. compilation commemorating the 155th birthday of Nikola Tesla.
  • In 2012, Esa wrote and published an article on water and Viktor Schauberger in Minä Olen, a Finnish new-age magazine.
  • In 2012, Esa released "On The Hangar of Spaceship Earth", on the 156th Birthday of Nikola Tesla. The name of the record is also a tribute to Buckminster Fuller.
  • In 2013, Esa took part in "Touched", a digital-only charity-compilation, donating all income to Macmillan Cancer Support. It also featured many famous artists such as FSOL and Plaid.
  • In 2014, Esa contributed a song "syokaa kanaa" to "No Dead Seas: No Red Seas Vol. 2", a digital-only charity-compilation, donating all income to The Black Fish, a marine conservation organisation.
  • In 2014, Esa took part in "Cryptobeat Volume One", a digital-only compilation highlighting Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin, i.e. virtual cryptocurrencies on the internet.
  • In 2014, Esa took part in "Touched 2", a digital-only charity-compilation donating all income to Macmillan Cancer Support. The compilation also featured many famous artists such as Autechre, Plaid, 808 State, Luke Vibert, Luke Slater and FSOL
  • In 2014, Esa released "Lexicon of Goods" via JellyFish Frequency Recordings, donating all income to the Martin Fleischmann Memorial Project (MFMP), thus supporting re-development of the Fleischmann-Pons Cold Fusion project and other such LENR/CANR technologies.
  • In 2016, Esa contributed on the documentary "Moonbears on Planet Earth" about Moonbears, a.k.a. Bile Bears / Asian Black Bears, and their abuse when extracting Bile from them, in collaboration with Andrea Daddi, Nadia Zanellato.
  • In 2017, Esa composed music for the Cold Fusion documentary "Anomalous Effects in Deuterated Systems - Melvin Miles: The Correlation of Excess Heat and Helium" produced by Ruby Carat for
  • In 2017, Esa composed music for the Cold Fusion documentary "Hydroton - a Model for Cold Fusion" - focusing on the Cold Fusion model of Edmund Storms, produced by Ruby Carat for
  • In 2018, Esa composed and edited music and sound for the Cold Fusion Podcast "Cold Fusion Now!" with Ruby Carat as the interviewer of Cold Fusion inventors, scientists and researchers.


  • 1999 – Album – "CDR#2" (CDr) Monotonik
  • 2000 – EP – "FOC349" (LP) deFocus
  • 2000 – Album – "Container" (CD, LP) deFocus
  • 2000 – EP – "R U Oho?" (LP) deFocus
  • 2000 – EP – "Rikos005" (LP) Rikos Records
  • 2001 – Album – "Spaces" (CD) U-Cover (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2001 – EP – "Spaces" (LP) Inc.US (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2001 – EP – "Zealectronic Purple" (LP) Zeal
  • 2001 – EP – "One-Offs" (NET) Monotonik
  • 2002 – EP – "A Lackluster Sampler" (LP) Merck
  • 2002 – EP – "Wrapping Album Sampler" (LP) deFocus
  • 2002 – Album – "Wrapping" (CD, LP) deFocus
  • 2003 – Album – "Showcase" (CD) Merck
  • 2003 – EP – "None of That" (NET) Binkcrsh (as Can'O'Lard)
  • 2003 – LP – "None of What" (NET) Corewatch (as Can'O'Lard)
  • 2003 – EP – "Not An EP" (NET) Corewatch
  • 2003 – EP – "You Are on My Mind" (NET) Monotonik
  • 2004 – EP – "Showcase Sampler" (LP) Merck
  • 2004 – Album – "Remixselection_one" (CD) Psychonavigation
  • 2004 – EP – "R U Oho?" (LP) Merck
  • 2005 – Album – "Slice" (CD) U-Cover
  • 2005 – Album – "What You Want Isn't What You Need" (CD) Newspeak Records
  • 2006 – EP – "Lax EP" (NET) Digilog
  • 2007 – EP – "Repulsine EP" (CD) SLSK Records
  • 2007 – EP – "The Stationary Trout" (NET) Part2 Records
  • 2008 – Album – "Places" (CDr) Grundruck Records (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2009 – EP – "Aeration" (NET) TwoCircles Records
  • 2009 – EP – "Cold Trail" (NET) Acroplane Recordings
  • 2009 – EP – "Proof of Concept" (NET) Yuki Yaki Recordings
  • 2009 – EP – "The Flows" (NET) Part2 Records
  • 2009 – EP – "Portal" (NET) Cornwarning
  • 2009 – EP – "Scattered Harvest" (NET) Format-Noise
  • 2011 – EP – "Remixed" (DIGITAL) Nice & Nasty Records
  • 2011 – EP – "Detro" (DIGITAL) Nice & Nasty Records
  • 2011 – EP – "Kaneel/Lackluster Split 3"" (CDr) Awkward Silence recordings
  • 2011 – Album – "The Invisible Spanish Inquisition" (CD) Igloo Pop Records
  • 2011 – EP – "Riversmouth" (3" CD-r) Attenuation Circuit
  • 2012 – Album – "On The Hangar of Spaceship Earth" (NET) Mahorka Net-Label (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2014 – Album – "Moments" (DIGITAL) Igloo Pop Records
  • 2014 – Album – "Lexicon of Goods" (DIGITAL) JellyFish Frequency Recordings
  • 2015 – Album – "Merck Package" (DIGITAL) Lackluster Bandcamp
  • 2015 – EP – "Parched Throat" (CD-r/DIGITAL) Attenuation Circuit (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2015 – EP – "Swansong" (NET) Kahvi Collective
  • 2015 - Album - "deFocus Package" (NET) Lackluster Bandcamp
  • 2015 - Album - "PSCHNVGTN K T H X" (NET) Lackluster Bandcamp
  • 2016 - Album - "Moonbears on Planet Earth Soundtrack" (NET) Lackluster Bandcamp
  • 2016 - Album - Esa Ruoho (Cassette) Kaukana Väijyy Ambient (as Esa Ruoho)
  • 2018 - Album - HLER (Cassette) HLER Bandcamp (Heikki Lindgren & Esa Ruoho = HLER)
  • 2018 - Album - "Hydroton - a model of Cold Fusion: Original Soundtrack" (NET) Lackluster Bandcamp


List of software used by Lackluster[edit]

Scream Tracker 3, AXS, Impulse Tracker, Audiomulch, Buzz Tracker, Logic Audio Platinum and Apple Logic, GarageBand, Ableton live, Schism Tracker, Renoise, ReViSiT and Pure_Data.[6]

List of artists remixed by Lackluster[edit]


List of artists who have remixed Lackluster[edit]

Bauri, Brothomstates, Esem, Xhale (Erik Skodvin, Xhale=Deaf Center), Sense, Numerical, Birdcage, Nachklangmusik, Remlab and Phasen.[1][6]

List of collaborations/appearances[edit]

  • Brothomstates: Kobn-Tich-Ey: Mr. Y (ringmodulated beginning scream)
  • Brothomstates: Claro (brothomstates ipxen) (original song)
  • Blamstrain: Disfold: Frame Math (additional electronics)
  • Blamstrain: Select Ambient Dub Works 06-09: Pride Pigs (synthwork)



Lackluster is taken from "Pyramids" by Terry Pratchett (Discworld series), encountered 1996–1997.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Esa Ruoho at".
  2. ^ Grooves Magazine #5, FAQT Magazine #5, Zealectronic Purple Biography
  3. ^ 2005 hotpress interview, Foggy notions interview (2005)
  4. ^ Merck records website, numerous interviews
  5. ^ U-cover website
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Lackluster website".
  7. ^ "TPOLM roster". "Monotonik roster". "Your account". pouë website. Retrieved October 11, 2010. "Esa Ruoho Demography".
  8. ^ "Private communique".
  9. ^ "Lackluster gig list".
  10. ^ "Helsingin Utopiat". Archived from the original on January 3, 2009.
  11. ^ "Assembly website".
  12. ^ "Teemu niskanen site".
  13. ^ " website".
  14. ^ " website". Archived from the original on May 11, 2008.
  15. ^ "Maa-tila". Archived from the original on October 19, 2006.
  16. ^ "Same as it ever Was blog-post".
  17. ^ "Retro4 game".
  18. ^ "Headfooters".
  19. ^ "Korg DS-10 Synthesizer – arvostelu". Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  20. ^ "Suomen kuumin peliaiheinen podcast on täällä". Archived from the original on December 13, 2010. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  21. ^ "Suuri koralliriutta -event".
  22. ^ "Relevant BCN Interview of Lackluster (2011)". Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  23. ^ "Latest Monotonik release". September 25, 2005. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  24. ^ "Lackluster – What You Want Isn't What You Need". Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  25. ^ a b c "Esaruoho Flickr sets".

External links[edit]