Review: Slave to Society – Slave to Society (Bank, Oct 11)

The self-titled release from Andrew Bowen’s new project Slave to Society is a mangled, abrasive mess of techno and hardcore, the five tracks each punishing onslaughts of pounding four-on-the-floor rhythms, blown-out buildups, and space-synth transmissions entirely stripped of warmth; everything here is cold and metallic and menacing. Bowen’s squalling, noise-plagued raves oftentimes sound like they’re barely being held together, always on the edge of collapsing under their own tremendous weight. There’s enough rhythm to keep heads bobbing and feet stomping, but the densely packed layers of seething electronic cells don’t always perfectly mesh, creating janky, angular polyrhythms that hover above the infectious pulse—ghosts in the machine. I found out about this tape from Bowen’s labelmate DJ Speedsick, who called it “a flat out game changer for contemporary hardcore and extreme electronic music.” Many of the tracks here have that frenetic, anxious pace and stabbing distortion that made Nothing Lasts such an amazing release, but something else entirely is reached with the fifth and final track on Slave to Society, which slows things down dramatically and undergoes a groaning, lethargic disintegration that sounds like the glitched-out final breaths of a dying robot.