You can tell just from scanning its sleeve notes that LP promises a continuation of Container's debut. After all, it arrives with the same mischievously anonymous title. Plus, there's the uniformity on a track level. Where its predecessor consisted of five cuts, each one sporting Ballardian nomenclature, seemingly lifted from medical equipment manuals ("Application," "Protrusion," "Dissolve," "Overflow," "Rattler"), so too does the new one: "Dripping," "Paralyzed," "Acclimator," "Perforate" and "Refract."
But once you crank this sucker these consistencies quickly crumble. I mean, yes, at its core the music certainly sounds like the work of Ren Schofield—i.e. his hardware synthesis of Daniel Bell-inspired minimal techno and American noise's anarchist tendencies. Yet what's at stake this time around feels significantly higher. That first record pounced with unruly fun and a roguish iconoclasm that was fresh and novel. On this album, however, a tug of war can be detected between Container, whose dexterity as a techno producer is only becoming more advanced, and that other part of Schofield, who forever wants to be a noise dude hell bent on violent subversion of all form and orthodoxy.
Whatever this sense of struggle refers to, it sure is evident right out the gate. On "Dripping" Schofield's layering is noticeably more multi-dimensional—architectural, even. Yet dig the way he throttles the volume over and over. So brash and punk. It's like he's howling, "Fuck the gradual build-up—turn this mother up now!" By track's end he's basically raking jagged glass across chalkboards. Next up is "Paralyzed," which even if the track isn't quite as ferocious, is just as mangled, particularly in the first 60 seconds when its lopsided gait is punctured repeatedly by what sounds like a malfunction in the original tape. I strongly suspect these gnarled burps started life as pure accidents.
That said, "Paralyzed" also reflects Schofield's rapid progression as beat scientist (his learning curve being deliriously steep). Some of his tweaks in rhythmic schema, as well as syncopation, are downright nasty; check out the two-minute mark and how the toms, bass and snare all of a sudden start bashing into one another like bloody knuckles in a bar brawl. Then there's his calling-card knack for dropping splatter-shots of analog-rich feedback and reverb at the most unexpected of times. He's gotten so skillfully intuitive at this (see the hard-rocking "Acclimator") that his method has pierced that rarified zone where it sounds both improvised and composed.
But it's on the closing "Refract" (for my money the record's top track) that said tug of war comes closest to ripping apart the rope that binds them. Its opening minutes aren't unlike something you'd find on, say, a D'Marc Cantu plate: Motor City robo-funk equal parts spacey, agitated and eccentric. But then all hell breaks loose: deep-sea sonar ominousness, double-time snares blurring into distorto-crunch, and that maniacal computer voice Schofield just loves to deploy all twist the final three minutes into a fist-pumping, in-the-red, mosh-pit jam. It's not often one comes across an album that is somehow both more evolved and primitive than its predecessor, yet it's a trick Container has pulled-off with LP.