“For all its skips, hissing and disintegrating beats, this is a sound refined to a sharp point in search of an unforgettable physical impact, losing none of its energy and power in that distillation” – Ian Maleney on Container‘s latest LP.
As one of the cornerstones of what journalists began to call “technoise” last year, Container‘s first LP for Spectrum Spools saw the then Nashville-based noise artist moving into the world of techno with a series of seriously damaged beats that never quite fell in time and were smothered in layers in tape-distorted synths and samples. Where producers like Kassem Mosse and Blawan have been pushing their work into ever noisier experiments from a techno standpoint, Container’s work began with noise and worked its way out. The result was a messy, heavy and exhilarating experiment in form and content.
A year or so later, Ren Schofield is back with a refined and purified version of his techno. In the past twelve months he has played a lot of live sets and the greater understanding of techno from a club point of view is obvious straight away. This record is even more condensed than the last, chopped down to just five tracks of brutal yet groovy beats.
Drexciya is perhaps the most obvious influence, with the Detroit duo’s sub-aquatic electro sculpted into something far more gritty and filth-ridden, punching its way through the soil rather than bubbling underwater. Side A opens with ‘Dripping‘, a squelching beat that skips and echoes its way through a relatively calm six minutes. Calm relative to the rest of the record only. Percussion is paramount to proceedings, with only a couple of harsh repetitive tones adding to the central beat. Swells of reverb add space to the distortion, opening and closing sections with sharp cuts between the wet and dry sounds. It’s minimal techno, but not in the nice Kompakt-y way we’ve come to associate with the term. This is pure physical, rhythmic sound, stripped of everything that might get in the way of its considerable bodily impact.
Schofield has a particular way with distortion, encrusting every element in layers of the stuff but still managing to have the whole picture be as clear as day. ‘Paralyzed‘ sees a computerized vocal sample contort itself over a bouncy beat that refuses to stay still for very long, changing patterns deep within the wall of tape saturation. ‘Acclimator‘ closes out the first side with another classic beat warped beyond comprehension. Initially sounding pretty industrial, it moves just a little too fast for comfort and winds up skittering its way into a full on banger courtesy of one the most brutally effective and simple hi-hat patterns you’ll ever hear. No swing, just head-down, marching-to-infinity, four-to-the-floor techno. The end will always take me by surprise.
Schofield saved the biggest (and perhaps best) for last, with the two slabs on side B going straight for the jugular. Quite simply, these are two of the most brain-melting tracks of the year. ‘Perforate‘ opens with an acid bassline and that same computerized voice as before, speaking the track title into the ether. The distorted drums that fold in on top of the normal beat pull the whole things apart before the distortion overwhelms everything and knits it all back together in the most pounding way. Closer ‘Refract‘ is in a similar vein, growing out of a bassline into something apocalyptic that resists any kind of description in words. It needs to be experienced. There’s that voice again. How good it’s going to sound on a dance floor is something worth salivating over.
In many ways this LP dissolves the “technoise” division by pure engagement with the techno form, as there is almost no way to separate the two constituent elements like you could with the first Container record. The only “noise” left really is the tape distortion. For all its skips, hissing and disintegrating beats, this is a sound refined to a sharp point in search of an unforgettable physical impact, losing none of its energy and power in that distillation. All killer, no filler.