Silent Servant’s music may sound like techno, but it’s shot through with the DIY approach of industrial, post-punk and noise. (It was somehow no surprise that the Sandwell District associate’s debut solo album, Negative Fascination, came out last year on Vatican Shadow’s decidedly non-techno Hospital Productions imprint.) As you can see from his recent Headphone Highlights feature for RBMA Radio, Silent Servant believes in the power of hypnotic simplicity as much as the next techno producer. He just wants it a bit dirtier than most.
(Check out the audio version of this interview at RBMA Radio.)
Crescent - Light / Eyes (Swarffinger)
Crescent are from Bristol. They were involved a bunch of different bands. I think they’re on Fat Cat now, but this was a weird combo release with a bunch of different labels. “Light / Eyes” has pretty much been stuck in my head for the past eight to ten years.
Cabaret Voltaire - Spread The Virus (Rough Trade)
“Spread The Virus” is from the album Red Mecca. It's just drum machines, guitars – kind of, for me, the sweet spot of what was considered industrial at a certain point.
Broadcast - Microtronics (Warp)
I had the pleasure of DJing for Broadcast on one of their tours on the West Coast, and it was around that time that “Microtonics” came out. Broadcast was very influential for me. They took a lot of chances, tried so many different things, were influenced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This was really kind of mind-blowing.
Raymond Scott - Nescafe (Basta)
Broadcast introduced me to Raymond Scott. “Nescafe” is really interesting because it’s like minimal techno before minimal techno. It has a percolating sequence, and that's why it's called “Nescafe” – because it was actually a pitch for a coffee commercial. I’m really influenced by the sound quality of this. I think a lot of people are.
There’s like a film, a filth in a way, on the music. Cabaret Voltaire has it, bands like Minimal Compact or even Joy Division have it too. They let in the acoustics that occur naturally. That adds a sense of depth instead of just being a dry sequence. A lot of times, I’ll leave an open cable plugged into an amp and you’ll hear the hum. It’s the sense of electricity. It’s kind of stupid, but you can find music in weird things, like, I don’t know, an air conditioner. People will make fun of me: “What are you listening to? It sounds like a broken air conditioner.” And I’m like, “Well, yeah, I guess to you, it does. But it's actually pretty good.”
Robert Hood - Minus (Tresor)
“Minus” has a really simple sequence, but there's a beauty to it that is really engulfing and repetitive and hypnotic. Like the previous song – Raymond Scott’s “Nescafe” – it has that sensibility of hypnosis, which has always been a big attraction in things that I like.
Regis - Concentrate (Downwards)
“Concentrate” is from Delivered Into The Hands Of Indifference. It was released right when I just recently had met Karl [O’Connor, aka Regis]. To me, it had the atmospherics of Basic Channel and experimental music, but also mixed in the sequencer music of DAF. There was also a sense of motorik, a Neu! thing going on as well. Delivered Into The Hands Of Indifference is one of my favorite records.
Suicide - Ghost Rider (Red Star)
Kind of an obvious one for a lot of people, but the first time I heard “Ghost Rider”, it really changed a lot of things for me. It made me realize the virility and intensity that things can [still] have despite their simplicity.
The Velvet Underground - The Gift (MGM)
If you listen to the studio mix, at least the one I have, the music on “The Gift” is coming out of the right – it’s mixed into the left but very slightly – and the vocal is all in the left. Lou Reed wrote this story unrequited love, but it’s John Cale’s voice you hear reading it. It has a really strange disaster at the end.
Vainqueur - Lyot (Basic Channel Remix) (Basic Channel)
I think this is Basic Channel 07. It might be 03. I don’t know. I get confused because they’re all the same names. The remix is one of those awesome Basic Channel tracks that is really repetitive, but has lots of weird emotion that happens within that repetitiveness.
Silent Servant - Temptation And Desire (Hospital Productions)
“Temptation And Desire” is one of my favorite tracks on my new LP, because it’s a mix of all the things that I really love and wanted to put on the album. Drum machine music, synths, weird vocals, bass guitar; it’s a mixture of things.