God, do I love a two-piece band. The notion of musicians “in orbit” so often touted in describing Joy Division et al. is especially relevant with such vulnerable instrumentation, a universe of limited objects. Of course, one way to elude vulnerability is by introducing the hidden hand of feedback – thus we see sludgey, noisy two-pieces everywhere from Tuskar to Big Business. The combination of bass plus drums has proven incredibly flexible too, and on Modern Technology’s first full-length we find Chris Clarke and Owen Gildersleeve grimly returning to each other’s malignant, recalcitrant orbit, propelled by rage and anxiety.
The genre is loud, creaking sludge, veering between tight, riff-driven passages in lockstep (think Godflesh meets Grief) and moments of feedback and howling that would lead you to believe that the engineer (Wayne Adams) had locked a bunch of rabid ferrets in the live room. Under come strongly to mind in their focus on discomfort, but Modern Technology have a sneer in their rhyme and reason that can be better traced through their London origins; “living” in the Big Smoke is perhaps a different, more mechanical form of oppressive misery to a life up North. Queasiness is too soft for (the) Capital; agonizing at least acts as a form of self-criticism, toughening our exteriors as “the walls close in / on all four sides”, the opening line to the terrifying ‘Blackwall Approach’.
Very little escapes their scrutiny, from suburbia (‘Semi-Detached’) to social media (‘Life Like’) – each topic an opportunity to seethe, to bark commands sardonically, to invoke walls of fizzing, gurgling bass and calamitous drum. This record is far from a manifesto however. It’s more like a diary, one that is easily relatable – a gathering of thought-snatches had in passing, during commutes, during the shower. It collects the sentiments that fester in the back of your mind when you can see injustice baldly operating in front of you, and spits them back with ferocity and gravitas. With all profits from the sale of Service Provider going to charity (thanks to the band’s own label Human Worth) getting it can’t be recommended highly enough. Noise for the now.
Service Provider is out now via Human Worth and can be purchased here.
Words: David Burke