Silent Servant / Santiago Salazar, Mi Alma

[Historia y Violencia]

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Wistfulness may not be the first adjective that comes to mind when considering the work of Juan Mendez, but it’s nonetheless often present in the best of his work, manifesting itself variously in the form of bleak romance or epic grandeur. This split 12″ with fellow Historia y Violencia label boss Santiago Salazar offers two beautifully sinewy techno sides, both imbued with differing shades of melancholy and bite. Silent Servant offers “Mi Alma,” a hypnotic and driving piece that keeps pace in time-honored Mendez fashion: ticking hats, expertly placed chords, resounding pads, and low-end throb. The arrangement, though sparse, is so lushly executed as to give the sensation of an herbal-enhanced train journey through vast open country.

Santiago Salazar offers a more classically Detroit piece of emotive action on “Corazon.” Plentiful strings, stuttering beats, and great haunted synth washes afford “Corazon” an epic, restrained, and nostalgic sensibility that oozes class and not a little sadness. The best techno is often imbued with a stern and direct sense of place. As is often the case with the output of Historia y Violencia, the tracks on display here are afforded a sepia-toned, sun-bleached aspect — at once driving but restrained by tropical malaise and a palpably languid air. Here is widescreen techno befitting and beautifully evocative of its L.A. birthplace, oddball Americana writ large with all the urgency and wistful poetry that entails.

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