From its uniform sleeve design to its pure black labels and lack of tracklists, Blawan's and Pariah's Works the Long Nights label juggles its visibility in the UK techno scene with a hopeless striving for the anonymity of yore. It makes sense, then, that the label's fifth release is both its most hyped, featuring a generation-spanning pairing of young buck Blawan with industrial-techno godfather Surgeon, and its most unexpectedly slippery. Those hoping for something genuinely new out of either producer will be disappointed in SHEWORKS005, a four-track EP that layers Surgeon's hefty loops, Blawan's chain-rattling drums, and a subtle, yet potent whiff of leather-clad EBM. Still, it's a more succinct and engaging outing than its immediate predecessor, a snarling but leaden double-12" pack from the label heads' Karenn project. Where SHEWORKS004 struggled to get off the ground, Trade's record tries to go off the rails with unhinged energy. It falls just shy of that goal, but not disappointingly so.
Surgeon's contribution might be summarized as corralling the hellish soundscapes that surrounded "Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage" on Blawan's 2012 Hinge Finger release His He She & She into somewhat more danceable forms, and Trade is indeed a ways off from both his own sound and his recently rebooted British Murder Boys collaboration with Regis. A track like "Touch This Skin" continues in the Hinge Finger 12"'s serial-killer techno vein, with bass that constricts the chest cavity without fully materializing and drums that sound eerily like samples of a captive banging a tin cup against the wall of their prison cell. "Positive Neckline" and "Half Nelson," on the other hand, have a rockish toughness, like the exhumed body of Belgian new beat eaten by blight; there's a bit of melody in the bassline of the former, but the track chastises its impure thoughts with vivid, whip-like claps, while the latter's robotic vocals are put in their place by high-pitched squeals. "I Notice You All" goes even harder, although it gives a sly wink before descending into the maelstrom with a Paris Is Burning quote. ("If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you," Dorian Corey wearily intones.) But the duo quickly launches into a machinic assault of acid burps and percussion that seems to engulf the listener's body and proceeds to bang the stripped bones together. Those hoping for a return, however slight, to the relative lightness and rhythmic variety of Blawan's earlier productions will have their hopes dashed quickly by SHEWORKS005; Surgeon isn't sonning Blawan to greater heights here, either, but together, they've spit out a satisfyingly weird platter.