Minnesota-based Juan Mendez has been one of the most ear-catching electronic producers of the past year, his productions as Silent Servant for the Sandwell District label and his own Historia Y Violencia representing some of the fiercest and most satisfying minimal techno going.
Sandwell District is a sub-label of Downwards, the label run by Karl O’ Connor, AKA Regis. A true icon of Britain’s electronic music underground, Regis has worked with Surgeon under the name British Murder Boys and has developed a singular aesthetic for his label which mingles heavy, uncompromising dancefloor techno and pure electronic abstraction, all shot through with a decidedly EBM/industrial sensiblility. The latest 10"on Downwards finds John Mendez working with Camella Lobo under the name Tropic of Cancer. It’s impossible to describe the record without invoking TG and Suicide, whose stark minimal wave aesthetic informs both tracks, particularly A-side ‘The Dull Age’. But there are all kinds of other influences at work, from ambient metal to drone-folk, and the resulting sound has shades of Grouper, My Bloody Valentine, Cold Cave and even The Velvet Underground to it. You can listen to clips here.
Available on limited edition vinyl only, ‘The Dull Age’/’Victims’ is further evidence of creative resurgence on the fringes of techno, and of producers in that sphere making music that explicitly refers outside of it (a recent Mendez mix features tracks by Ariel Pink, Blank Dogs and The Gun Club). Tropic of Cancer is clearly a project well worth rooting for. So how’s about an album?