Shadow Of Death And Desire is Juan Mendez's second as Silent Servant. The Los Angeles based musician is incredibly prolific, working also as Sandwell District and having been involved with Tropic of Cancer. Here he turns the Silent Servant project nastier than it's ever been, going all in for an a album of dark and remorseless EBM.
Vinyl LP £19.99 HOS-613LP
LP on Hospital Productions. Includes foldout poster.
Tape £9.99 HOS-613MC
Tape on Hospital Productions. Includes foldout poster.
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- Shadows of Death and Desire by Silent Servant
Los Angeles artist and former Sandwell District member Juan Mendez AKA Silent Servant returns with his second LP, six years after his influential debut album ‘Negative Fascination’ appeared on Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions. Since that record, lots of producers in the techno sphere have been exploring EBM, industrial, goth and post-punk permutations of techno. I think it’s safe to say that record was partly responsible and is certainly considered by Fernow as a classic, and indeed a milestone for the label in terms of opening its doors to more techno-oriented sounds. Follow-up ‘Shadows Of Death And Desire’ traverses a similar path in that it wears its influences on its sleeve yet has Mendez’s very distinctive sound.
The squirming ‘Illusion’ opens with wriggling serpentine EBM arpeggios - simmering, snaking and phasing along it bubbles with a tension that’s never released. ‘Harm In Hand’ updates the 80s blueprints of Neon Judgement, Klinik, DAF, Wax Trax, Nitzer Ebb etc. in a similar mode to his Sterile Hand collaboration with Ori Ofir (Lower Tar), except Mendez deploys the vocals himself in a classic semi-deadpan style. ‘Damage’ bangs almost like a bombastic B-boy Regis, while 'Loss Response' is cloaked in dramatic enveloping synths that wouldn’t have been out of place on Sandwell District's now massively sought after ‘Feed Forward’ album. The snaggy ‘24 Hours’ is driven by springing bassline and rattling oxidized drums. 'Glass Veil' is probably my favourite tune on here at this point in time, despite it only being two and a half minutes long, it wastes no time hitting the sweet spot with its push and pull dynamic of tumbling drum machine momentum and lush shivering synth that’ll have a dancefloor swooning. The trainspotters amongst you will know that Mister Mendez was initially half of Tropic of Cancer alongside Camella Lobo before the project evolved into a solo endeavour. She makes a ghostly vocal appearance on the gorgeous closing track ‘Optimistic Decay’ which sounds something like Vatican Shadow meets Tropic of Cancer. I’m definitely feeling this album a lot more now that I’ve given it a few spins - particularly the silky, more ethereal parts that contrast so well with the gnarly framework.
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