Well, damn. I had a whole lead written out to kick off this review but, listening once again to LP, it seemed increasingly pointless so let’s just cut to the chase instead. I’ve become disillusioned with lots of the music I am hearing these days. The deeper stuff just seems wallpaper, the harder stuff just playing at it. Now and again I catch an interview with someone or other who passes for a household figure in Our Thing, and I hear them mention post punk, or this or that, and I’m reminded of a time when name checks for Prog or Krautrock bands used to infest interviews like lice, but no matter how hard you tried to hear those influences in the music, it always ended up sounding like every other techno record. I don’t even like prog, and have only a passing interest in Krautrock, but throwing terms like post punk around caught my attention. At least until I listened to the records and realised that what they really meant was it was going to be a bit gothy. We were back at square one again.
I don’t really know very much about Ren Schofield’s background, other than he was involved in the Rhode Island noise scene for many years before transitioning towards techno, and even now he maintains a healthy detachment from the rest of the blips and bleeps gang. I also know that some of the people who have banged on about LP to me the loudest are certified fans of punk and hardcore, able to reel off as many Big Black or Minor Threat songs as they can techno tunes. This isn’t a surprise. LP is the most punk thing I’ve heard in years.
In terms of peers, well, there aren’t many. The urban filth of Prostitute’s Nouveauree from last year certainly comes closest in terms of attitude even if the sounds and structures are different. But that record aside, I can’t think of anything else that comes close to LP’s asphyxiating, claustrophobic energy. Yes, it’s still recognizably techno, with maybe something of the aesthetics of some of the harder edged stuff from L.I.E.S (a label, interestingly, run by people with a similar background in non techno stuff), but it’s techno that seems to take its entire ethos and inspiration from other sources.
For all the noise, the mayhem and distortion, LP is a surprisingly complex beast. The entire sound is predicated on the intricate roll and play of the rhythms. Lot’s of techno is based on the drum track, but very little approaches this level of skill and fury. Snares and kicks burst around your head with the ferocity of fires storms, punctuated by squeals of feedback marking the stomp from one territory to the next. In Remover the beats are hounded by the twisted downward spring of the bass and the crackle of electronics gone bad. Peripheral drags the speed back, introducing a swing below the fuzz that is reminiscent of Shellac at their most maliciously groovy, but with a cacophony of demented robot chirps taking the place of Albini’s poisonous sneer. Cushion comes closest to tradition with a pounding 4/4 groove that veers between hellfire spitting acidic madness and silicon EBMy swerve.
7 tracks in 27 minutes. It leaves you breathless and ready for more. It’s relentless but not brutal. That’s because far from being built from monochrome slabs of unremitting noise, as one frequently finds at the extreme of the techno spectrum, there is a fluidity to LP’s structure. There are natural pauses and crescendos that hit at times which suits the music rather than the DJ or the crowd. It rises and falls on its own internal sense of rhythm. It’s playful too, like a big cat toying with dinner.
I’ve always enjoyed Container’s music in the past, but this is like the fulfilment of a promise. I don’t know how DJs are going to play tracks from this in their sets without other tunes sounding limp and timid in comparison. They probably won’t, and that’s their loss. Other producers may carve away at their ideas, creating music that seems like careful collages of influences, but LP rips it all up and starts again. This is year zero techno, and it’s exactly what we need right now. Go and buy it.