- Wordplay for Working Bees is not only Lucy's debut album, but also the debut full-length release for Stroboscopic Artefacts, and as such it acts as a de facto mission statement for a label that might have been previously associated with brooding and punishingly functional techno. In a word, that's decidedly not what you get with Wordplay; rather, the album is a fluid ecosystem of club-ready tracks and disparate sketches, dark Berghain-aping techno reanimating hazy memories of early '90s IDM (it even has the nonsense track titles thing going for it). Its refusal to conform to even its own label's defined aesthetic is just one of the reasons that Wordplay is one of the most personal, affecting and diverse techno albums since Shed's The Traveller.
The album often swings wildly from gorgeous interludes to foreboding atmospheres, where low frequencies bud and spore spontaneously. The beats are rarely predictable, sometimes not even danceable: the off-kilter thump of "Tof" struggles through amniotic fluid, and the creeping beat on "Mas" is buried under ice. Sometimes they're barely there, as on "Eis" where the drums are squeezed into a ghostly pattern that sounds more like flashing light than anything physical. That's not to say that Wordplay is all downcast weather and ruminative rumblings: The album's pumping midsection can be just as suffocating as it is warmly embracing, particularly the hissing field of locusts that surrounds the floating breakbeat in "Bein" or the aural cement mixer that grounds "Lav."
Wordplay's defining feature is its immense and overwhelming sound design. Texture dominates over structure and rhythm. While definitely not an ambient album, it's easy enough to get lost in what's happening in or around the beats. It's something that anyone who loves electronic music, sound and sound manipulation, can fall in love with; when those microscopic fireworks burst blazing out of the percussion on "Gas," no one's going to care about time signatures or genre conventions. As techno continues to suffer through a bipolar identity crisis, fractured down the middle between minimal and, well, not minimal, it's producers like Lucy that prove just how far beyond those arbitrary boundaries the medium can be extended.