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Container - LP Music Album Reviews

Ren Schofield continues to straddle noise and techno on his fourth album, pushing his ramshackle rave music to its breaking point.

For all the noise, chaos, and dysfunction flowing through Ren Schofield’s work as Container, the Nashville techno producer never aims for less than total euphoria. That trancelike drive—as indebted to minimal techno greats like Daniel Bell and Robert Hood as it is Schofield’s early days in the Providence, Rhode Island noise scene—allows his music to sound perpetually on the verge of rattling apart. Even when spiraling into ear-searing psychedelia, Container is sturdily reinforced by a core of pure joy, an impish glee fueling its destructive drive. On his fourth album, LP, Schofield pushes his ramshackle rave music to its breaking point—and yet he’s never made an album that holds together quite as well as this.

All Container full-lengths have the same anonymous title of “LP,” a sign of the full-impact maximalism they share. Each one locks into its dissonant grooves, drilling deep into a seemingly limited palette of sputtering drums, mangled vocals, and synths. Under that unifying tunnel vision, each vividly named highlight could hold the weight of a title track (“Refract,” “Dripping,” “Rattler” suggest Schofield’s as great at naming tracks as he is terrible at naming albums). This LP continues that tradition with nine comparatively shorter pieces, each a convulsive vignette that tumbles into the next. With names like “Drain,” “Leaker,” “Juicer,” and “Chunked,” many are as efficiently self-descriptive as blender settings.

While the shorter tracks don’t form a cohesive arc exactly, placing slower atmosphere-builders next to LP’s manic sprints pays off in the long run. Moments like “Peppered” or “Leaker’ also show Container moves just as well when he‘s creeping and lurching. The latter rides a heavy, propulsive drum machine that lays a foundation for a squeaking synth that sounds pulled from the higher frequencies of noise mainstays Wolf Eyes. It sets up “Vacancy,” a two-minute burst of short-circuiting noise rock, where fluttering drum triggers and overdriven synth filters ratchet the tension every 20 seconds or so. Schofield speeds up before slamming into a breakdown that recalls Lightning Bolt’s classic Load Records releases. For a project that often surprises by how well it works on a dancefloor, it’s a moment aimed directly for the mosh pit.

In proper Container fashion, the extremes tend to hit all at once. Opener “Drain” barrels forward with wounded drum patterns, but hinges on a playfully bent synth melody pinballing throughout. It continues a shift from the fractal-like quality of Schofield’s early LPs, cramming more twists and turns into tracks less than half the length. The album closes with a tightly repetitive counterpoint to “Drain” on the aforementioned “Chunked,” which violently loops like a locked groove trying to bust out of its cycle. With so many moments playing off one another like that over the short run-time, it benefits more than earlier releases as a start-to-finish listen.

You can start to see trajectory to Container’s LPs after this fourth edition, though the changes are deceptively subtle considering how unruly any specific release is. What’s never changed (and likely the reason the series remains so consistent) is simply how much fun Schofield makes all this mayhem sound. Both noise and techno are genres beloved for their sonic freedom—but they can also earn the occasional gripe for stuffy self-seriousness. Schofield still straddles the two precariously, but he also embodies the best of the genres’ shared ideals. Both should be happy to have him.

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