Red Devill
Vida Bandida

Mexican techno-body act Red Deviil have been busy; their new EP for Synthicide follows hot on the heels of their late 2023 LP for X-IMG Tendencias Ocultas and a wide assortment of shorter releases for labels around the globe, all in the last 12 months. While the music on Vida Bandida doesn’t depart significantly from the rough-edged sound that is the hallmark of their productions, it is an excellent primer for duo Guni Ca and BlakG’s vision of aggressive modern body music. Largely instrumental and hard-nosed, the emphasis in tracks like “Beliko” is on impact, with drums and bass programming that hammer their way through the smokey atmospheres that adorn their work, where their minimal arrangements still fill out a mix through increasing rhythmic pressure. That approach can lead to monotony in places, but on cuts like “Rush” new percussive variations and breaks allow for some of the less immediate sounds in the mix, be they pads, samples or reverb tails to move and breathe around the drum hits – the track’s late addition of a rave-ready synthline taking the track to altogether different rhythmic territory. The title track takes their production philosophy to its effective extreme; while the sampled moans, chittering synths and machinegun snare-fills aren’t unique in the Red Deviil toolset, its their assembly and relation to one another that give the track its unique flavour.

Sam Rosenthal - Before The Towers Fell
Sam Rosenthal
Before The Buildings Fell

Dating back to 1986 but receiving a physical repackaging just now, Before The Buildings Fell makes for an intriguing point of contrast with Sam Rosenthal’s most well-known project, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, which was releasing its first material concurrently with this LP of deep and spacey synth experimentation. More imagistic and less confessional than Black Tape, and clearly drawing influence from the work of Schulze, Froese, and other synth pioneers of the preceding decade, it’s an interesting chapter in Rosenthal’s musical development (and certainly a more ambitious one than the slightly better-known and earlier Tanzmusik), but also serves as a snapshot of how the analog ambitions of those earlier masters sat in relation to consumer synth. Oddly, the combination of Rosenthal’s gear and his gauzier interests and ambitions makes Before The Buildings Fell feel oddly prescient of the softer sides of hyperpop and hypnagogic pop; if presented to me blind, I might presume that “Jane” could be something from the most recent The Gold Age Of Wrestling record, for instance. Elsewhere, the journey to the record’s effect is a bit easier to parse; bedroom synth takes on kosmische is effectively the mission statement of the first handful of Pink Dots releases, and closing lullaby (or elegy) “The Amber Girl” in particular seems sympatico with Ka-Spel & co., alighting upon the same combination of hushed intimacy and starry vision.