Randolph & Mortimer
The Incomplete Truth
The origins of Randolph & Mortimer’s second full-length LP The Incomplete Truth are surprisingly personal given the largely anonymous image the Sheffield-based project has cultivated, at least insofar as their recordings themselves. Born in the wake of depression resulting from a terrifying near-death experience in the workplace, R&M’s Sam Evans conceived of the LP as a live setlist from some alternate reality free of everyday working concerns, with the need for every song to “..lay waste to arenas”. Perhaps there’s something to the memento-mori aspect of the record and its immediacy, because it’s easily the most accomplished and crucial recording by the socially minded industrialized-body music project, bounding over the high bar set by the preceding 10 years of releases.
While Randolph & Mortimer have never been at a loss for a deep EBM bassline or impactful drum programming, there’s a renewed urgency to the style of largely instrumental tracks here. Opener “Self-Medicator” fits nicely into the mold of the project’s best dancefloor contenders with its escalating intensity, the bass and drum arrangement becoming ever denser and more knuckle-tightening with each repetition of the dehumanized vocoded voice and the upward rise of the shrill, anxiety-inducing synths. And here’s whats fascinating about the album; the wave of relief that comes as the follow-up title track loosens everything with a mid-tempo groove, snatches of strummed guitar, a yelled vocal refrain and nigh-mellow synth arpeggios, is no less vital. The record’s great trick is that regardless of what angle Evans approaches rhythm or composition the record, every song feels committed and alive with energy, from the Kraftwerkian-electro touches that ornament the stuttering samples of Black Dahlia collaboration “Resurrector” to the dreamy way that the voice of Dominique Slva’s voice floats through the druggy haze that envelops “Everything Was Forever”.
The breadth of styles touched upon, and the seeming do-or-die enthusiasm with which they’re executed is complemented by the same social themes that have always informed Randolph & Mortimer’s work. One has to imagine that the reality of almost losing one’s life for a paycheque that ends up going to rent and bills could only reify Evans’ deep capitalist critique that has always existed in his work, his contribution to the history of his home city’s intertwined labour and industrial music traditions. That personalization manifests through pure sonics, with the repeated clanging sound of hammers and air raid sirens sounding the warning on “Yuppies”, to the way the featured guest Andi’s vocal plays out its repeated mantra of subjection and subordination against rubberized EBM bass and synthlines, insistent and intractable from one another.
When the slow lope of closer “Becoming Inoperative” finally gives way to inertia, its bass guitar and organ fading into detuned echoes in its final moments, its tempered euphoria feels like less of a resolution than it is a call for reflection and action, whether political or personal. Through The Incomplete Truth Sam Evans has remade Randolph & Mortimer as the best version of itself, rounding up the politics, musical motifs and energy that have informed the band and distilling them into their most essential, purposeful form before directing them outwards into the world. A person with no conception of the geographical or personal history it speaks to should be no less moved – emotionally or physically – by the journey it undertakes, and the accomplishment it embodies. Highly recommended.