Heady techno from one of the style's leading labels.
Serena Butler, presumably named for the character from the Dune novels, is a self-described gender abolitionist "in a male host." Their music is no stranger to heady themes. (A previous EP focused on artificial intelligence.) That, and their uncommonly beautiful techno, makes them a good match for Stroboscopic Artefacts. Just check the two tracks without vocals: "Globular Hymen" balances a steamrolling kick with an intricate, hypnotic lead, while "Science Is Not An Expression But A Suspension Of Gender"—another "Xenofeminism" quote—is hefty dub techno with a lilting melody. It's tough with a tender heart.
The vocal tracks are similarly majestic. The distance of the voice on "If Nature Is Unjust, Change Nature" actually adds to its hallucinogenic style. It feels like the gossamer-thin ghost of a techno tune until the drum pattern finally slams in, the EP's most satisfying moment. Emma Watson's voice is front-and-centre on "And With Fire Came Disparity," so much so that it's hard to imagine a DJ playing it in a club. This would be a shame, as its surging techno beat is strong.
By using these samples, Butler forces listeners to negotiate with themes of gender and feminism. She employs samples in opposition to each other: Watson's view of feminism and the pay gap is exactly the kind of gender essentialism that Xenofeminism advocates against. It's socially conscious and open-ended instead of polemical, and its layers of narrative become more impressive as you dig into them. Clean Hands is also incredibly well produced, recalling the early days of Stroboscopic Artefacts, when the label seemed intent on changing the way we heard and thought about techno—a torch that Butler seems eager to carry.