Boomkat Product Review:
Techno’s arch, dark alchemist Juan Mendez rolls out a powerful 2nd Silent Servant album with ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ , arriving some six years after his ‘Negative Fascination’ side triggered a sea-change toward EBM and gothic sonics in a way that’s never been felt more strongly. The album also features the unlikely reappearance of longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo of Tropic of Cancer.
Over the past two decades the storied, L.A.-based producer has made his presence felt both by stealth and frequency. From his earliest work on LA’s Cytrax thru his pivotal role on early Tropic of Cancer releases and as recording and visual artist with Sandwell District, then later as the go-to-guy for fusions of post-punk, industrial, EBM and techno with DJ sets and releases as Silent Servant, Juan Mendez’s myriad efforts have inarguably exerted an enormous influence over contemporary techno and dark electronics.
With his sophomore album Silent Servant presents an affirmation of his prowess with properly physical effect, wielding some of the most strapping arps, possessed vox and moody pads in his catalogue. In contrast with ‘Negative Fascination’, its influential predecessor, the seven tracks of ‘Shadows of Death and Desire’ are defined by a toothier drive and bite, moving with shark-like momentum thru ruggedest club functions while allowing little room for anything like beat-less reflection or downtime.
Locking in with ‘Illusion’, he pursues singular, writhing permutations of EBM, industrial and post punk moods; taking in slathering highlights with the agitated bruxism of ‘Harm In Hand’ and the rotor-jawed syncopation of ‘Damage’, along with the trampling drone-dirge of ‘Loss Response’, and the needling panic attack dynamic of ’24 Hours’, before drifting off centre with the glorious, swingeing torque of ‘Glass Veil’, and a swooning goth finale in ‘Optimistic Decay’ which sees mendez reunite with longtime collaborator and vocalist Camella Lobo.
Exquisitely rendered in-the-mix by Joshua Eustis, we can practically guarantee that if you fell for the first album, this one will push your buttons hard, too.