Silent Servant - Shadows Of Death And Desire LP
Label: Hospital Productions
Silent Servant returns with Shadows of Death and Desire. Now-legendary producer, DJ, and art director Juan Mendez arguably reset techno at least twice. Once with his surreal and Europe-by-way-of-LA '80s apocalypse culture aesthetics for Sandwell District, and again as Silent Servant capturing the youth-driven mutation of crossover electronics and dark parties churning in the American underground, which followed directly in the wake of his game-changing modern classic, Negative Fascination (2012). Mendez has evolved to more aggressive and stripped-down acid punk electro dance attacks Shadows of Death and Desire. Mendez took his time to deliver a more raw –yet refined– brutalism on this, his second album. The otherworldly guitar feedback of opener "Illusion" is cut short with a relentless bass sequence erasing any preconceptions of softening with time. Stereo-panned dusty snares drag along concrete and break apart with without a past or future. The introductory hypnotic sprawl is hastily dissected and left behind for the systematic tension of single "Harm In Hand." Cold drum machine rolls that could have been removed with a laser from early Ministry are offset with a vocal delivery not felt in techno since Suicide. The narrative is constantly disrupted by caustic guitar stabs, its naked urgency like slamming on the brakes while inertia thrusts you forward in space but decidedly not in time. In his own words, "The record is a product of a significant life change that wasn't a benefit," which is eerily felt from the start but is surprisingly washed away with album closer, "Optimistic Decay" (which has become a mission statement from Mendez's visual ideology). "Optimistic Decay" sees Mendez reuniting with vocalist Camella Lobo (Tropic Of Cancer). Lobo's voice rises from spectral vocal delays beyond dub. A subtle nod to Silent Servant's initial Maurizio-leaning EPs but with the grandiosity and opioid slow-motion haze of My Bloody Valentine. Also a student of cinematic deconstruction, the album looks inward from the exterior of LA's untold stories in the netherworlds on the edge of the city, a rapid crash course in confidence games and subsequent letdowns. Shadows of Death and Desire sets the standard in electronic post-punk.