Scramblers by Container

Release date: March 20, 2020
Label: ALTER

We last saw Container turning ‘Ten Times A Day, Everyday’ into an aural panic attack for avant-metal giants The Body on their Remixed collection, which offers a handy pointer to his noise/Rhode Island roots. He returns to the fray with Scramblers, his fifth full length fun pack of raw electro noise jams. Growing out of his live performances this set was recorded, mixed and mastered all in one day which probably helps explain its loose feel and bristling energy. Scramblers is his first release on ALTER and first full length to get a title, the previous four all rather confusingly being called ‘LP’. The name is one shared by a diner he used to go to with his father and a Baltimore street drug. He explains that he liked “The juxtaposition of depraved and wholesome contexts”

Scramblers is an irresistible cheap hit, bag of cans and stupid dance moves in the kitchen, groove. I guess it’s a kind of love it or hate it type situation. I love it! If you aren’t on side after the first couple of tunes then things are not about to change much to draw you in, there are no dalliances with other genres, changes of pace, glowing ambient wonders, or even all out brutalist noise assaults. It’s a packed half hour of Container doing his thing, eight rough cut chunks from the same rusting, burnt out, joyride. If you know his earlier stuff then it’s kind of more of the same only this time he’s found a way to crank it up another notch.

First track ‘Scrambler’ opens with sparse rhythmic punches and quickly winds itself up into a tense blast of eyeball shaking claustrophobia. That’s the gentle opener. A cloud of noise and chatter lead us into ‘Nozzle’, an urgent electro slam rattling about in a thin, static charged, channel. ‘Trench’ rides a gratifyingly grimy bassline and piles on the thick distorted textures. It’s a filthy, ecstatic flow. Fourth track ‘Mottle’ starts with a queasy rising tone and tips into the sound of a machine brain in meltdown. It twists and spasms and ends up writhing on the floor of the supermarket aisle as blurred announcement tones echo off the chiller cabinets, the sound of the world leaking in, dragging you back. Concerned faces lean in. That’s side one.

Side two ramps up the intensity some more. ‘Queaser’ is a monomaniac rhythmic thump, the sort of thing where if you’re not onboard it’s just offensive. A minute of face scraping grey noise drops into a hyper sped up disco of ‘Ventilator’. It’s then steadily poisoned and corroded by nosebleed scree until it hits a dead stop. ‘Haircut’ begins as a pacy groove but soon lurches into acid drenched space battle, a scorched earth assault on restraint that flames out into fried crackle. The final tune ‘Duster’ is a burner with another infectious bass roll. It keeps its groove this time but again spirals into a mangled chorus of over-saturated tape loops.

Scramblers serves up some absolutely delicious mutant techno crank. Container’s minimal set up of four-track, pedals and 909 and singular approach brings a unique sound. Like a painter working with a restricted palette Scramblers is like a suite of formalist abstractions on the same themes. Considering which, he skillfully maintains a sense of urgent motion and invention without the use of over familiar build/drop dynamics. What we loosely call noise techno is often one on top of a bed of the other, industrial sounds over the familiar beat grid but Container is intuitive techno made out of noise. Blank and rough edged but still instant and compelling. The container is empty. No meaning is offered up here, the only emotion a kind of liberating idiot joy. Not that it’s thoughtless, but it’s in the moment, lost in the sound, in the now. Come on, a little dance around the kitchen to some damaged beats and overloaded tape murk is good for you.

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