Silent Servant and Lucy History Survivors EP
Take two of techno's most abrasive practitioners, put them together, and the result is History Survivors. It's the first collaboration from ex-Sandwell District member Silent Servant and Stroboscopic Artifacts founder Lucy, and, predictably, it's industrial strength to the core. Clocking in at a little over 20 minutes, its two tracks offer an extended trip through freakishly overdriven feedback and mirrored halls of dub. And though it leans towards the atmospheric side of the techno continuum, both tracks are aimed squarely at dancefloors.
Of the two, a-side opener "Dormancy Survivors" is the more banging, with a busy kick drum that taps away beneath white-noise hiss and dubby stabs that have been run through generous amounts of tremolo. The track's central riff appears about halfway through, a mobius strip of detuned piano notes appearing momentarily before slipping away into the ether. Like all good techno, it engages the mind but is also capable of hitting the body hard, given the right kind of soundsystem. That said, it's also not so abrasive that it demands the context of similar material to make it work; it's certainly mellow enough to put some menace in a house set, if one was so inclined.
More restraint is at play on "Victors History," which dials down the jarring noises in favor of a more linear course. The kick is reduced to a bare pulse, leaving the furious rattling of a heavily delayed tom in the spotlight. As before, space is simulated with heavy reverb, but here it comes in washes, riding closely on the tail of some light strings that tease but never reveal. There's something about this that is extremely appealing; the ear wants more of the sound, but if there was ever any reveal, the track would lose its seductive sonic tension.
If there's one complaint, it's that while the whole EP is consistently good, it does feel as though Silent Servant and Lucy are playing it a little safe. The risk taking that both artists have demonstrated previously is notably absent, replaced instead by a willingness to embrace a more manageable structure—presumably for the purposes of club play. In the best of all possible worlds, the two don't necessarily need to be mutually exclusive, but that's hardly something to fault on what is otherwise a well thought-out release.
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