Lucy: Churches Schools And Guns (Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Stroboscopic Artefacts label boss Luca Mortellaro has been releasing a steady stream of solid electronic music through his label, championing a variety of acts that share a similar aesthetic (Dadub, Plaster, Lakker, to name a few), but it’s been a while since he released his own music as Lucy. His debut under the moniker, Wordplay for Working Bees, was a slick hybrid of minimal techno and more corrosive, almost industrial sounds. With Churches Schools and Guns, Lucy moves further away from the dancefloor still, with only two cuts on the album (out of 12) qualifying as techno-ready for the dancefloor. That’s not to say that most of the album is lacking in rhythm, but it is a good clip slower and more introverted than one might expect. Elsewhere the album tends to vacillate between nervous energy (the twitchy shudder of “The Best Selling Show,” the insistent stride of “The Self As Another,” the galloping waves of “Human Triage”) and something more inert. beatless, or sprawling (“We Live As We Dream,” “All That Noise”). For DJs and techno fans, he’s included “Follow the Leader” and “The Illusion of Choice,” each with a deep 4/4 kick and a nice uptempo clip, but otherwise Lucy seems keener on exploring murkier waters.
The slow, slinky crawl of “Catch Twenty Two” is both menacing and seductive, with a swirling sound that reminds me of Coil’s “Nasa Arab,” shifting shapes gradually, rich with effects and atmosphere. The only real touch of lightness is found in the the closing track, “Falling,” featuring vocals by Emme. It’s a dreamy five-minute outro to the more nightmarish fog of most of the album. By the time it dissipates in its final seconds, Emme’s voice is unadorned and naked — a smart and curious choice given the hazy landscapes that dominate the album. But it’s quite good overall, and it reaffirms Mortellaro’s vision as both a producer and artist as well as a label owner. There is definitely a bit of a “house style” for Stroboscopic Artefacts, and it both starts and ends here.