- When Body Issues came out back in 2013, Max Ravitz, AKA Patricia, was one more unknown name from a UK label known for digging up new producers. But the New Yorker's cassette stood out on Opal Tapes. Collecting the analog dirt that was all over their catalog and packing it into dingy club music, Body Issues was easily the most dance floor-friendly cassette the imprint had dropped at the time. It was a big deal even with the ubiquity of tape-damaged techno and house, big enough that Opal Tapes re-released it to launch their club-friendly Black Opal imprint shortly thereafter.
Despite its lo-fi exterior, Ravitz's music is softer and more textural than that of his peers. There's intricacy beneath all that grime. His talent becomes especially obvious in his live sets, where you realize the rawness of his music is simply a product of delivering full-throttle techno on the gear he has. Since Body Issues, Ravitz has released an EP on Spectral Sound, collaborated with all sorts of artists (the Inhalants and Pulpo projects among them) and unleashed a stream of tunes—from Tin Man-style acid to jacking house—on SoundCloud. He now returns to the label that gave him his start with Bem Inventory, a six-track record that sounds like a direct sequel to Body Issues.
If anything has changed here, it's that things have gotten a little more funky. Take "Just Visiting," a collaboration with Mood Hut producer Cloudface that pivots on one repeated chord with a seductive swing. As usual with Ravitz, he can't leave well enough alone: the two producers quickly start pushing and pulling on the track's wide arc, making the chord fall in random places and attacking it with all sorts of trippy effects. It's the kind of jam you have to keep up with rather than zone out to. Ravitz has an obvious love for live performance, which comes through in the unstable way he writes. On the meandering "Mercury In Retrograde," the bassline seems to fall slowly behind the drums, while "Needs A Nap" lets a brittle sequencer bleat and splurt over his otherwise pedestrian drum track.
Though Ravitz is good at writing catchy melodies, he also knows his way around a hard, commanding groove. The best moment on Bem Inventory taps into that vein. "Bed Of Nails" is when he lets loose, laying down an anvil of a kick drum and letting the bass synths bubble and squelch like mud crushed underneath. As powerful as it may be, it's never abrasive or claustrophobic. Ravitz focuses on the weird springy textures he can extract from his machines, rather than just programming them to do as much damage as possible.
A noted collector of old synths and hardware, much of Ravitz's music sounds like it was made on junky equipment, which is part and parcel of its appeal. It's how Ravitz programs those devices that makes his work stand out, proving that lo-fi doesn't have to mean crude or simple. Bem Inventory is not only well-produced, it's surprisingly varied as well. In just six tracks, Ravitz goes from pounding techno to unusually smooth deep house. On first glance, Bem Inventory is another slice of proficient, raw dance music from a scene that seems to spit out new records of its ilk every few minutes. It certainly works in that context, but lift the lid and there's a whole lot more going on underneath.
01. Mercury In Retrograde
02. Just Visiting feat. Cloudface
03. Life Is A Hideous Thing
04. Bed Of Nails
05. Needs A Nap
06. Hadal Zone