Lucy: Wordplay for Working Bees
Wordplay For Working Bees is an absolutely stunning collection from Stroboscopic Artefacts founder Luca Mortellaro aka Lucy. It's one of those albums that's so good, it seems like a completely new re-imagining of the techno genre; it also holds the distinction of being both Lucy's debut album and the Berlin-based label's premiere full-length release. On production grounds alone, the album rewards attention. The mix makes as much room for the huge throb of the bass as it does the multiple, contrasting textures that surface within a given piece.
Immediately signifying that Wordplay for Working Bees will be a listening experience like no other, “Thear” plunges us into the center of an industrial factory complex where Stockhausen's words (“Whenever we hear sounds we are changed, no longer the same”) are piped over the intercom. The promise of that opening salvo is lived up to in the tracks that follow, starting with “Of,” where a new strain of deeply textural and experimental rhythm-based music is brought into being, and especially in “Bein,” whose heady mix of tribal techno and dub makes the opening pieces feel a bit like warm-ups to the main event. Powered by a tightly wound elastic pulse, the track throbs like a 2011 update on Chain Reaction's own indelible future-techno, particularly when metallic percussion flurries and gaseous emissions relentlessly drench the surging rhythm base.
The material assumes an especially hallucinatory character when Lucy threads voice samples into the pieces, such as when Le Corbusier's voice babbles alongside a hyperactively crackling percussive flow during “Gas,” and when voices collide during the jacking IDM-techno of “Eis.” Lucy's music straddles experimental and club realms with what seems like effortless ease. The frenetic dub-techno throwdown “Lav,” for instance, works its magic on purely listening terms without any lessening of its potential as a body-mover, and the inclusion of someone delivering a UN summit speech doesn't prevent “Eon” from laying out a lethal, diamond-hard groove and becoming one of the album's most potent club bangers. It's at such moments that Mortellaro's experience as a DJ (he's appeared behind the decks at Berghain and Fabric, among others places) figures prominently into his productions. Elsewhere, “Torul” strips Lucy's sound down to a skeletal framework where conventional hi-hats and snares are absent and unusual percussive clatter and astral electronic effects take their place, while “Ter” ends the album in stunning form with a rarely heard melodic gentleness anchored by an insistently pitter-pattering percussive flow.
One final testament to just how thoroughly Mortellaro developed the recording is that field recordings gathered from Berlin parks, streets, clubs, and his own apartment are woven into the material's sonic fabric without being identifiable as such. The extreme processing applied to such elements transforms them into pliable elements that function as pure sound in their embedded form. Put simply, calling Wordplay For Working Bees triumphant would not, in this case, be hyperbolic .