Broken English Club, Jealous God 04

[Jealous God]

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Broken English Club is the new moniker of UK techno veteran Oliver Ho, and this record sees him experimenting with a blank-stared, pin-point-focused electronic palette that betrays no-wave/post-punk influences. Indeed, an opulent peel of smoke seems to hang over this EP, as if exhaled in some late-70’s NY dive, perhaps Suicide or DNA on stage dodging projectiles from an addled crowd of unsuspecting punks. Muffled spoken-word vocal delivery, the odd, twangy surf guitar interjection, skittish drum patterns, and a dark ambience — all these signifiers are present. However obvious the points of reference, this is not an exercise in retromania. Ho’s sharp engineering ensures that — unlike so much of the muddier, industrial-inflected gear out there — there is a clarity and fierce drama to these tracks.

“A Square Shaped Room” hinges on down-tuned guitar notes and creaking field recordings, quickly setting an ominous tone, while “Boxes” shuffles along with far-Eastern horn interjections and brittle synths alongside a reverb-laden snare. “Birth Control” is perhaps the most seductive track on display here, a tight breakbeat ticking away with layers of pitch-black distorted sub anchoring Ho’s imposing spoken vocal. “Casual Sex” is an exercise in tension, narcotic and driving with piercing synths and incessant battle-drum reverb. Those familiar with both Ho’s fearsome and often brutally futurist early EP’s on Blueprint and his more angular Raudive material will be aware of his ability to inject a dark narrative drive to functional electronics. Here he seems to adopt the vantage point of the “seen it all” one-man band, monotone vocals and shards of live instrumentation ably adorning the stuttering broken beats and bleak pads. It’s a strong EP that ably adds to the Jealous God aesthetic of preposterous drama and smudged-mirror portent.

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