With just a few days from the current year left, I’ve compiled a list of 20 albums from 2018 that I enjoyed this year. Among these I have to highlight the much anticipated Mutant Beat Dance debut album, the first ever album from Gerard Hanson under the E.R.P. project, a new Gerald Donald project and a compilation of unreleased Heinrich Mueller remixes, a Silent Servant follow-up on Hospital Productions, a very interesting Fred Ventura compilation of unreleased house tracks, a new Lebanon Hanover, the beautiful debut album of Curses, the impressive Eindkrak album and the debut album of the Romanian producer Șerb.
The list is compiled in chronological order.
Eindkrak – Brullend Staal [Unknown Precept]
Now-legendary producer, DJ, and art director Juan Mendez arguably reset techno at least twice. Once with his surreal and Europe-by-way-of-LA ’80s surrealist apocalypse culture aesthetics for Sandwell District, and again–as Silent Servant–with his “Jealous God” imprint that captured the youth-driven mutation of crossover electronics and dark parties churning in the American underground, which followed directly in the wake of his game-changing modern classic, Negative Fascination. Mendez has evolved to more aggressive and stripped-down acid punk electro dance attacks on Silent Servant’s equally vital follow-up, Shadows of Death and Desire. While many would stall after the success of a now contemporary cult classic, Mendez took his time to deliver a more raw–yet refined–brutalism in his second album.
vinyl / CD
Brand new label Orden Extática from New York, featuring Loraine Sangre and Silent Servant. Limit-Xperience is a culmination of formative experiences as well as present of evolving influences of Silent Servant & L. Sangre. The two tap into both their distinct shared points of view, as well as integrating of the space where their individual inclinations lie. A joint expression of driven electronic music, and eras since passed filter thru and draw from electro, techno, industrial, and more of their musical fundamentals. In similarities as well as differences, their coming together allows for a permutation that is their own.
Juan Mendez a.k.a Silent Servant finds his ideal EBM vocal foil in Ori Ofir under their Sterile Hand moniker. The duo’s first vinyl round for Not Waving’s Ecstatic label is a dark and sleazy run of deviant industrial techno and pugilistic EBM cuts made over the last year.
Phase Fatale (Hayden Payne) and Silent Servant (Juan Mendez) started their collaboration in 2016 performing together live at several Jealous God showcases across Europe, such as Berlin Atonal, and then working together on Payne’s Redeemer Extended Mix 12′ from his album on Hospital Productions last year. The Confess EP on BITE is a studio documentation of those aforementioned live performances and harnesses the cathartic energy of the stage into a physical medium.
Mannequin’s 100th – a compilation looking forward featuring an international and serious cast. The modern synthwave scene would be significantly poorer without the keen ear and tireless efforts of the Mannequin label run by Alessandro Adriani. Mannequin continues to go on exploratory missions to find the best and most relevant aspects of genres like acid, industrial, EBM, post-punk, coldwave and still more. Which brings us to Mannequin’s newest project and 100th release overall: the Waves of the Future double LP compilation, which itself is not a conventional retrospective collection. Case in point – none of the artists appearing on this collection have put out their own releases on Mannequin yet, despite acting as Mannequin’s unofficial ambassadors (via DJ sets and other means). This makes the set even more compelling rather than less so, since it shows how Mannequin fits into a larger picture that includes other scene leaders and label owners including Beau Wanzer, Willie Burns, Silent Servant and Ron Morelli.
The 22nd “Issue” on Regis, Silant Servant and James Ruskin’s Jealous God label is predictably impressive. Undoubtedly the most notable inclusion is “The Bond”, a rare collaboration between Marcel Dettman and Silent Servant that looks to the sleazy, arpeggio-driven thrust of Electronic Body Music for inspiration. It’s the EP’s one genuine “peak-time” moment and strong enough to carry the whole 12″, though happily Pye Corner Audio’s flipside excursions are also impressive. Check, for example, the undulating, fluttering, post dub techno cut “Delay Gratification” and the swirling, hypnotic dancefloor melancholy of inspired closer “The Future”, where a lone acid line rises above a dense and poignant backing track.