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Planetary Assault Systems

The Messenger

(Ostgut Ton; US: 25 Oct 2011; UK: Import)

By giving one of his techno projects a name like Planetary Assault Systems, techno musician and DJ Luke Slater has more or less made his music out to be something quite epic. Be under no illusions, though: The Messenger is a largely chill affair, one dominated largely by texture and repetition. The press materials for the album tout it as “club-ready” and easily listenable; unfortunately, despite that promotional statement, The Messenger is actually a rather drab listen.


Though the album claims to be club-ready, it’s hard to imagine this music being the sort to get people moving. There are beats and grooves present, but they feel subdued instead of lively. Even when the pace picks up, like on album closer “Black Tea”, it still doesn’t sound like the pulsating, intense music that is often found in clubs. For the most part, the album sounds not like something one would listen to on his or her own, but instead as something that could be played alongside other music to give a DJ the ability to mix the music together. By itself, most of this music just drags on and on in its own repetitions, none of which entrance in the way that great minimalism does. Though genres like micro-ambient have demonstrated that electronic music can be repetitively minimal and still be engaging, here the music feels like a restrained experiment. Slater’s skill and reputation as a techno DJ are still noteworthy, but one ought to look for other records aside from The Messenger to get a more apt demonstration of his talent.

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Brice Ezell is the Assistant Editor of PopMatters, where he also reviews music, film, and books, which he has done since 2011. He also is the creator of PopMatters' Notes on Celluloid column, which covers the world of film music. His writing also appears in Sea of Tranquility and Glide Magazine (formerly Hidden Track). His short story, "Belle de Jour", was published in 67 Press' inaugural publication The Salmagundi: An Anthology. You can follow his attempts at wit on Twitter and Tumblr if you're so inclined. He lives in Chicago.


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Planetary Assault Systems - "Black Tea"
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