An excerpt from a text on the ‘philosophy of dance’ reads:
through the City, indoors or outdoors, one is everywhere confronted with the worn-down forms of distinctively artistic activity. There is architecture all over the place, of course. But also there is music everywhere, a background privately or publicly generated; there are sculptural and graphic forms, and literary language. One is surrounded, not indeed by artistic masterpieces, but by signs and symbols used in ways that could not be what they are without the direct influence of self-consciously artistic practice. But there is no sign of dance anywhere, other than in actual dances which have to be located and sought out.
Thus, according to Andrew Ward, “in coming to terms with dance in the city or anywhere else today we should not be surprised to encounter a deep-rooted reluctance (or inability) to bring dance into focus.” It follows that Container’s LP, particularly in the context of its precedent, should function accordingly.
Since its emergence under Editions Mego, John Elliott’s Spectrum Spools imprint has been releasing consistently artful music (e.g., the recent self-titled album by FORMA). Container’s LP, recorded early May and late June 2011, is no exception, continuing something of the cosmic synth aesthetic that has spearheaded the label’s releases thus far. Container, however, goads you away from the contemplative sanctuary, which could quite easily have been found in preceding releases by FORMA, Bee Mask, or Temporal Marauder, and toward a sweaty ‘outsider techno’ that rather necessitates a particular physical engagement with it — namely, dancing. Albeit to respond otherwise to this music would be impossible; Container’s set at West Virginia’s Voice of the Valley - Festival of Weird Music in August was described as “the highlight” after causing the audience to go “apeshit,” thereby erupting a “hybrid mosh-pit/rave.”
Similarly, Ren Schofield of Nashville, Tennessee (a.k.a. Container) has made a significant departure from the God Willing project — “a disjointed, confusing, maze of crude oscillator, tape, and guitar” — with which he established himself through his own label, I Just Live Here. Container, in contrast with God Willing, is almost abreast with minimal techno as opposed to noise. However it may be, LP is likely to keep many noise fans engaged due to its familiar harshness, audibly manifest in the stringent lo-fi crunch of its production.
The distinction is located in the motoric current that is insistent throughout, all at once giving a sense of both rhythmic safety and rhythmic alienation, which, incidentally, doesn’t vanquish its energy. This is apparent in the opening track “Application,” which midway through unleashes a jolting assault that jacks up the intensity threefold, sustaining then until the record’s close. Despite being a wholly coherent work all-over awash with cascades of much of the same unearthly tones, individual tracks manage to contribute something unique and present idiosyncratic outgrowths of distinct experiments. LP is perhaps strongest at its temporal extremities, and the conclusion of “Rattler” is notably momentous as the sheer pressure venting/tearing through the speakers reaches its limit.
As an experiment in electronic beat-orientated music, LP is an important milestone in the courses of both Schofield and Spectrum Spools, for it surpasses the precedents of both in occasioning heavy dancing. I recently had an opportunity to see Container play on an Amsterdam rooftop. I didn’t go however, and after hearing LP, recorded around the same time as this shortcoming of mine, I regret it.