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HTRK: Work (Work, Work)

HTRK
Work (Work, Work)
(Ghostly International)

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Distant, cold, echoing, and steadily paced, HTRK’s Work (Work, Work) is an album filled with strictly late night sounds. Lyrically, Jonnine Standish still sings of sex, submission, detachment, and dysphoria, but this time around the topics are even more cryptically embedded.

The intriguing opening track “Ice Eyes Eis” starts off slowly with a simple beat and eventually crescendos into layered synths and rising, until breathy female German voices finally dominate every other sound.

“Bendin’” is clearly dubstep-inspired, featuring repetitive, deep, and steady paced electronic beats over blown-out bass tones. Standish delivers not bored, but rather deliberately detached, and quite frankly, sexy vocals. And the repeated line “bendin’ twisting to you” echoes, filling every available space.

“Eat Yr Heart” has a similar mood, but a lighter beat and almost growling synths that rise and fall throughout, as higher tones gradually build up underneath and finally rise above.  “Skinny” sounds distant and embracing simultaneously, mostly due to overlapping vocals and echoing electronic beats. It bridges the gap from the earlier cavernous tracks to the album’s second, more soundscape-based half.

The duo shows off their no wave inspirations by creatively manipulating sound levels and allowing certain sounds, usually reserved for the deeper layers to take the forefront. The most aurally interesting examples are the electronic percussive clapping that takes on an ominous tone in “Work That Body” as well the oscillating volume of the synths.

The reverberating vocals on “Synthetik” blend perfectly into the building background soundscape, and the mysterious refrain of “your love is so successful, it’s perfect, it’s synthetik” is just clear enough.  Nigel Yang’s mood-shaping guitars get a chance to shine on “Poison,” complementing every other instrument, but never overpowering.

Work (Work, Work) maintains HTRK’s dark and moody atmosphere and offers even more musical variation than its predecessor. Layers of electronic sounds are artfully mixed up and down as sizzling, slow, and repetitive, echoing beats seep into every dark corner.

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