Release Date: May 8, 2012
Record label: Monkeytown
Genre(s): Electronic, Garage, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Dubstep, Neo-Electro
Between the release of their self-titled first album and its follow-up, Memory, the men of Lazer Sword decamped from San Francisco to Berlin and L.A. Whether it can be attributed to the change of locale or just the passage of time, Memory reveals a slicker, sleeker version of the duo's sound. Tracks like "Toldyall" have a newfound smoothly soulful glide that, initially, feels bereft of the cheeky sense of humor Lazer Sword displayed in spades.
Can a rhythm be discreet and frenzied at the same time? The current state of bass music seems practically engineered to tackle that particular challenge, with some corners of the scene pushing back against superclub maximalism by dicking with the parameters of just what maximalism really is. Lazer Sword, the production pairing of Lando Kal and Low Limit, emerged with a Yay Area take on hip-hop-distilled electro that thoroughly engulfed everything they could wrap their hands around. Their 2010 self-titled debut was a tribute to all things blindingly outsized and glossy in bass music, pastel neon reflected on blinding chrome.
Forming their partnership in San Francisco six years ago, Antaeus Roy and Bryant Rutledge established the Lazer Sword project in earnest during 2010 via a run of sought-after singles. Their eponymous album on the LA-based Innovative Leisure imprint that year was, however, a somewhat patchy affair, after which Roy relocated to Berlin to concentrate on a solo career under his Lando Kal moniker. With Rutledge settled on the West Coast, a second Lazer Sword album looked unlikely, yet through pooling creative resources remotely, the Californian duo have now returned to the long-player format via Modeselektor's Monkeytown.
Retromania is thriving in electronic music: there are electro revivals, house revivals and even the odd bit of jungle. Here we have two San Franciscans (one now residing in Berlin, naturally) engaging with the ghosts of Detroit techno. Ghosts they definitely are – one of the defining aspects of the original genre, replicated effectively here, is a spectral quality to the sound.
Memory, the sophomore LP from Lazer Sword, basically sounds like a 180-bpm banger played at about 80-bmp. Released two years after their Justice- and MSTRKFT-indebted self-titled effort, the San Francisco, CA-forged duo have traded dynamics and danceability for far-reaching and foreboding mood music. Certainly pushing for a more classic feel, cloudy knob twisters "Point of Return" and "Better From U" strive to capture that "Plastikman at three a.m." feel, relying on imperfect analog rhythms and tarnished layers.