With ‘Wordplay for Working Bees’ Lucy creates a blueprint, not just the departure point for the full length format according to Stroboscopic Artefacts, but he also lays down new possibilities for the techno album. Refusing the obvious 4/4 route, Lucy traverses the widest possibilities of electronic music. ‘Wordplay for Working Bees’ encompasses IDM that leans towards drone, puckering, dub-filled techno and ambient in its most oblique forms. The beloved character of Lucy’s DJ sets, the way he layers tracks to find unique timbre and tone, is reflected in his studio approach. Lucy’s debut album results in the most delicate and delicious juxtapositions, as the unexplained and unexpected tangle together in the ear.
The search for hybrid structures begins with ‘Thear’. Through Stockhausen’s words Lucy hints at a manifesto: Whenever we hear sounds we are changed, no longer the same. The record is textured with riddling vocals –be it the slither of a UN summit speech to heard on ‘Eon’ or the wisps of Le Corbusier on ‘Gas’— and none are used with idle intent. Just as on ‘Eis’, where the samples appear to be engaged in discussion but the thread of their argument is lost in the granular synthesis, the tracks are abstracted enough to provoke your own interpretations and critical judgements. The vocals’ inclusion gives rise to questions, and the ambiguity of ‘Wordplay for Working Bees’ creates an architecture that facilitates debate. It’s not just escapist or hedonistic dance music, but a concerted, dissonant effort to challenge the listener’s preconceptions. David Toop’s Sinister Resonances can certainly be heard.
This mood of provocation with no certain resolutions is a fitting description of ‘Es’. It’s a track with a long half life; it resonates, poised and pertinent. ‘Es’, the German for ‘it’, is an apt title for the indescribable mood where the ecstatic meets the melancholic. It’s hard to know what this ‘it’ is, but ‘Es’ transposes it perfectly. Amid these ambient, dubby tracks it’s rare and also somehow exotic when the 4/4 techno of ‘Bein’ does emerge. Equally ‘Torul’, which sounds as if it samples the swinging of a meat hook, has the potential to be devastating on a big sound system. To close the record ‘Ter’, with its pattering percussive-line full of hypnotic persistence, is a stunning ending. It seems to be the sound of melting ballerinas.
As a body of work it’s cohesive and impressive, a result of Lucy’s process. With the release of the very first vinyl on Stroboscopic Artefacts he began laying down the inital sounds for the album. Over the label’s first year he worked across all eleven tracks. In a way the record charts the development of his sound and the strengthening identity of his record label. It’s certainly not a portrait of the artist, it’s a landscape. Composed as it is of field recordings from parks, streets and Lucy’s apartment, it’s difficult not to see this as –at least in part– a depiction of Berlin. ‘Wordplay for Working Bees’ is certainly influenced by the sounds coming from Berlin’s clubs, galleries and forgotten pockets. Lucy holds a mirror up to the Hauptstadt, only to distort and redefine its reflection. The abstraction and processing of the album’s subject matter has a painterly quality and it’s evident that in creating ‘Wordplay for Working Bees’ Lucy slaved with technology to master it so brilliantly.
Words: Clare Molloy
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