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Lucy: Wordplay For Working Bees

I won’t bother with much background for this review: chances are you’ve heard something about Lucy’s Stroboscopic Artefacts stable, or at least picked up on some of the hype they’ve generated in a remarkably short space of time. Suffice it to say that this LP has been as eagerly-anticipated as any “techno album” of recent times, comparable in that respect to Dettmann‘s self-titled 2010 effort.

A lot is made of techno artists eschewing the “tyranny of 4/4” (as one PR man put it) for the full-length format, but in truth it’s now very much de rigeur. That’s certainly the case here, with Lucy’s theme being darkly ambient, gloomily abstracted IDM (yes, I just said “IDM”.)

Predominantly-beatless openers ‘Thear‘ and ‘Tof‘ evince clouds of wide-angled, over-saturated atmospheric texture, presaging the overdriven breakbeat of early highlight ‘Bein‘, offering us our first piece of percussive gristle to chew on. ‘Lav‘ offers a similarly churning bass-heavy groove overlaid with grating, flaying stab sounds, assembled in what sounds like a very odd time signature, while ‘Eon‘ comes closest of all to barefaced minimal techno with a dubstep-inflected kick drum pattern, swishing offbeat hats, and little else.

Those tracks aside, Lucy firmly prioritises timbral experimentation over propulsion: the failing machinery-drone of ‘Gas‘, the deformed bell-like tones of ‘Eis‘ and ‘Torul‘, the ineffable, rubbery, off-kilter bassline of ‘Es‘.

The sheer variety and scope of sound design is wondrous – at times confounding, even overwhelming – but it is nevertheless welcome that the album’s two closing tracks introduce elements loaded with more easily discernable, regularly harmonic content and, thus, emotional resonance of a frequency we may be able to ascribe a name to.

Infact, ‘Mas‘ is as richly an emotional production as you’re likely to hear: a pulsating, evolving organ pad, bubbling and squirming high frequency FX and a sub-heavy bassline combine beautifully, redolent of both Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS output and more experimental Rhythm & Sound.

Finally, ‘Ter‘ is the only straightforwardly melodic confection on the album, but it’s a track that – while a suitably elegiac finale – feels somehow under-nourished. That said, though, ‘Wordplay For Working Bees’ remains an extravagantly adventurous and resolutely experimental work, and is one that – like all good electronic music – reveals new details upon each successive listen.

TRACKLIST

1. Thear
2. Tof
3. Bein
4. Gas
5. Lav
6. Eis
7. Torul
8. Eon
9. Es
10. Mas
11. Ter

Discover more about Lucy and Stroboscopic Artefacts on Inverted Audio.