- "Discipline" isn't a term you would necessarily associate with Shawn O'Sullivan and Beau Wanzer. On the spectrum of rough-shod, punk-ish techno, the L.I.E.S. affiliates tend to favour immediacy over studied control. But on their debut LP as Civil Duty, a pressure-cooked techno album that features some of the most straightforward music of either's career, discipline is the magic ingredient.
Civil Duty's nine tracks originated from live studio recordings made over the past three years, but there's little evidence of the chaotic streak which often marks live-jam records. With sparse, scratchy synth loops and muscular percussion, each track dominates through a fearsome repetition in line with New York's industrial techno tradition. At the onset, clattering snares tattoo "No Dexterity," and are made all the more menacing for being kept on a tight leash. Sheets of moaning feedback follow on "Microtome Massacre," which are tightly pinned by a jackhammer kick drum.
Having worked out their formula, O'Sullivan and Wanzer stick to it. The album yields several other highlights, like "Two Door Civic" and "Pure Tums," whose ascending synth figure could induce low-level dance floor delirium. Only occasionally does the limited colour palette start to feel drab, and it's usually when the energy level dips, as on subdued closer "Pro Emetic."
In the middle of Civil Duty, O'Sullivan and Wanzer strip back the drums to a loping halftime for a couple stranger productions. "Spider Bites" is all noxious low-end throb; "Fishkopf" is sharper and electro-tinged. It's interesting to contrast the latter track, in particular, with the blown-out electro experiments of Wanzer's untitled solo LP from last year. Civil Duty is a departure for its creators, but you'd never guess it.
01. No Dexterity
02. Microtome Massacre
03. Belial’s Night In
05. Pure Tums
08. Two Door Civic
09. Pro Emetic