Dale is the drummer in Brooklyn-based duo YVETTE and the Director of Special Projects and Other Provocations at GODMODE music. He is also a freelance writer. His work has appeared recently in the New York Daily News, Complex, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, Noisey, The Awl, Fader and elsewhere.
There’s a scene in the Danny Boyle flick The Beach (2000) in which Leonardo DiCaprio runs through the jungle, hallucinating that he’s a first-person point-of-view video game commando, severely doped on renegade island weed and twisted by the absurd turns that life can take. That’s the feeling I get halfway through “Glaze,” the first song on Container’s EP Adhesive: you’re stuck in a locked groove and forced to make snap choices within a fairly rigid system, exposed to violence as a means to keep order, not to disrupt it, and totally in your own head. And the only option is always yes, move forward now. I feel propelled, moved by this sound outside of me, by what it does to my internal clock.
The metallic clangs and driving beats here mark Ren Schofield’s move from drone to dance, a route so many have taken recently to capitalize on the viscera of the former by embedding these sounds in the latter. This isn’t the Providence, Rhode Island producer’s first release as Container, but it’s definitely his strongest.
I first heard of Schofield, whose Container alias is just the most recent of his artistic incarnations, a few years ago, when I was writing for the now defunct experimental music blog Altered Zones. He had been releasing music under the name God Willing on a handful of labels, and those sounds would often end up in front of me. When our band Yvette was on tour a while ago, my bandmate Noah Kardos-Fein had gotten his hands on Adhesive, and it soundtracked at least a few hundred miles that month.
There’s so little pretension here that it makes for some of the most listenable, purely enjoyable tracks in recent memory, despite some of its playfully painful sounds. Though it’s just on the wheelie side of the throttle, it doesn’t mean the adrenaline is any less palpable. When Container hits a curve, you can barely hang on. The survival is gridded in something mysterious. Just as you think you catch the groove, the bottom drops out and the polyrhythms that Container has dealt in so well in the past come into play. For all the hairpins, you can kind of see the finish line because the elements are so fundamental. It’s almost like if Kraftwerk had amnesia. And then there’s that locked groove. In this case, it’s also that planned nefarious release of great minimal techno, the best way to do a sick drop: create a false shortage.
Adhesive is only 20 minutes long but Container has sometimes stretched out fewer ideas over greater lengths of time. On his second EP (or third, if you count a split with Unicorn Hard-On), Schofield explores more ideas than ever before in shorter spurts. Gone are the long rhythm-delay rolls of 2011’s LP, replaced with a more succinct approach. Opener “Glaze” is the politest of the four songs here, which isn’t saying much when the main palette is all laser blasts and sawmill screeches. Second song “Slush” is BDSM for the EDM set, a sadomasochistic whiplash of a techno track that uses hard synths and sharp sampling to keep things pointed.
This is Schofield’s most drilling work to date, his most fricative music, the spit-in-your-face feeling of someone #pwning you with sound. When the ratty hi-hat comes in on “Complex,” it paints a big, tough-guy stink-face on me and I can’t help but bob along. And then I break into a smile at the closing title track, a roiling, brutal, precise number that’s almost narrative in its construction. It’s all well organized and yet wildly unpredictable. The trajectory he’s taken hasn’t been that different from Pete Swanson’s or that of other experimental artists who have led the exodus from noise to dance. But Schofield seems more compelled than his counterparts to make the listener move — for him, there’s no fighting this new urge to just dance. The arms are uncrossed. And they’re flailing.