You'd be forgiven for thinking that, after the two-minute intro of swells and stabs, Brendon Moeller's newest album Works was another album of pleasantly viscous dub techno. But if the NYC-based producer and DJ is anything, he's restless. Works—his first album for Speedy J's Electric Deluxe—is as much of a curveball as last year's beatless Subterranean, largely abandoning the dub techno tropes in favour of tunneling dance floor sounds. Released under his given name with no alias baggage, it shows Moeller following his muse into the darkest recesses of the proverbial nightclub.
It's apparent immediately after that intro trickles away, because "Spice" is a thrusting throbber that rolls in the same fluid way that other EDLX material from producers like Terence Fixmer does. Dub techno still licks at the edges of his sound, of course, whether it's in the dissolute gasps of melody that percolate in the peripheries of "Spice" or the way that "Writing Wrongs" seems to bury its chord progression in stuttering delay effects and bevelled metal textures. But the theme here is something less concerned with spatiality and texture and more with pure propulsion, a utilitarian techno album with an appropriately utilitarian title.
Don't confuse "utilitarian" with simple or boring, however, because these tracks carry not only a great amount of detail but also a fantastically organic sense of growth and dynamism. It keeps cuts like the ten-minute "Far Out" from getting too tracky or repetitive, squeezing out snares from a churning, trippy vacuum of phased chords and suffocating basslines, and adds a tactile dimension to the churning "In Pursuit" with its spurting chords and searching basslines.
Works also sees Moeller going for the jugular in a way we rarely get to see, and it's a refreshing look. First single "The Wanderer" quakes with industrial anxiety over vicious kicks and saturating hats, while "Off The Grid" feels like a quirkier Marcel Dettmann as a snaking arpeggio winds its way around an apocalyptic bassline. Moeller uses his familiarly melodic elements as brutal bludgeoning instruments. There's something almost defiantly violent about Works, like he's distinctly pissed off about something. It's that particular energy which sets this album apart from the rest of his discography more than anything else. When I interviewed Moeller last year he talked about his own dissatisfaction with the formulaic nature of recent dub techno and expressed a desire to "capture the spirit of dub techno... without the cliches and stereotypical sounds that are making it really bland." That's essentially what he's achieved with Works.
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Tracklist: Brendon Moeller - Works 01. Welcome
03. In Pursuit
04. Far Out
05. Writing Wrongs
06. Shuttle To Oblivion
07. Take A Dive Into The Sound
08. Off The Grid
10. Adjust To The Fading Light