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  • Filed under: Review
  • 11/01/2012

BMB Where Pail Limbs Lie EP

Despite coming as something of a surprise, it makes a lot of sense that Birmingham techno luminaries Anthony Child (a.k.a. Surgeon) and Karl O'Conner (a.k.a. Regis) should choose to revive their adventurous collaborative project in 2012. Looking at the UK's current underground music landscape, it's not hard to spot the influence of British Murder Boys; from the grayscale techno of Forward Strategy Group's excellent debut LP, to the metallic snares and creepy vocal work of Blawan's recent output, or Factory Floor's distinctly dub-like approach to live techno, one doesn't have to look too hard to see where Child and O'Conner have made an impression. As a result, the reboot of the project after the best part of five years' inactivity—now officially under long-used acronym BMB—feels less like a retro throwback and more like the pair smoothly slotting back into its natural position amidst the vanguard of experimental UK musicians.

"Dead Sun"—the first of the two tracks that make up Where Pail Limbs Lie—is BMB's industrial-techno blueprint at its finest. Building on the backbone of a powerful, relentless beat that barely changes over the course of seven minutes, the pair crafts layer after layer of intricate, shifting textures, gradually building up a backdrop of shoegaze-style noise, which eventually drops out to reveal an outro of overdriven feedback. As with the best moments in BMB's back catalog, it's all executed in a menacingly inhuman style, and when the track ultimately fades out into a final 20 seconds of birdsong, it feels as if it's been placed there simply to hammer home the entirely unnatural nature of everything that preceded it.

"In Another Country" is, relatively speaking, a more sedate affair. Rather than the intense 4x4 of the a-side, it glides along on a broken, metallic beat set across a backdrop of dub-style synth effects, delicate percussive touches, and ghostly, breath-like atmospherics. The kicks hit with no less intensity than any of BMB's heaviest work, but the focus shifts to the eerily empty spaces between each beat, adding a haunting, isolated quality to the hypnotic repetition of the drums.

Overall though, while the project's comeback itself may be something of a surprise, there are no shockingly grandiose statements or redefining curveballs to be found within the EP. That's no criticism though; if the British Murder Boys are going to return to active duty, this is exactly how they should sound. While it may seem like an odd thing to say about an act largely known for its sheer brute force, with live shows that can descend into a chaotic mess of ear splitting white noise, when BMB is at its best, it's all about subtlety—and there's plenty of that on display here. Essentially, over the course of just over 15 minutes, Where Pail Limbs Lie offers a masterclass on how to create music that strikes a fine balance between dramatic tension and hypnotic repetition.

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