Review: Lucy – Eat Drink Shop Relax

Lucy Press Pic 2 (c) Riccardo Malberti

Lucy must be a shaman because the music he produces sends you on a self-discovery and mind expanding journey, a ritual like experience which can only end with the healing of one’s own soul.

Luca Mortellaro aka Lucy, the founder of the widely renowned label Stroboscopic Artefacts, is quite known for his darker and experimental approach to techno thanks to “Wordplay for Working Bees” (2011) and “Churches, Schools and Guns” (2014), both released on his own label. 2016 finds him switching a bit directions, and exploring a different side of his identity through the more ambient oriented release “Eat Drink Shop Relax” out on the vinyl only Horo Samurai label.

Lucy’s choice of titles is never gratuitous, because for him words have a powerful role in guiding the listener and introducing him to a new world created by the artist. These are not mere labels put on songs for the sake of naming, but more like concepts which encapsulate an entire vision or, maybe, archetypes in that Jungian approach, which can help better understand the release, without forcing a particular vision onto the listener. We’re living in a time where the existence of the human being seems to be reduced to simple activities, which may or may not be necessities anymore, and “Eat Drink Shop Relax” explores this direction and invites us to question it.

Eat” has a somewhat abstract and mechanic start, with hints of, what I would call, gulping sounds in the background which only make me think of a compulsive way of eating, devoid of that pleasure of the taste and smell that food can offer, acting as a compensation for emotional emptiness. This theme is seamlessly continued by “Drink”, where repetitive sounds almost feel like being produced by inebriated machines, which have replaced human beings in a no so far dystopic future.  What follows next is a chaotic and dense soundscape created by “Shop“, which could easily be associated with the swarming flow of people in malls and supermarkets, constantly swiping their cards at the counter.  If I were to visualize this track, I would see an immensely tangled electrical circuit, lighten up like a Christmas tree, and constantly transferring personal data from point A to point B, so we can carelessly go on shopping sprees. This whole social ritual journey concludes in a rather noisy and cathartic manner with “Relax”, which is supposed to offer a refuge and a space for soul searching and, why not, meditation.

The EP is paired by the dark and grim artwork of Ryan Quinlivan which comes as a complement to the paradigm set out by the music, because the use of Japanese characters is offering a different insight into exploring and interpreting the concept of the release. Japanese can sometimes be perceived as an ambiguous language, especially by Western people, but it’s this ambiguity that contributes to maintaining harmony in the Japanese society where there is a strong group consciousness, a society which values the collective over the individual, and some Japanese characters are the proof of that.

What particularly drove my attention was the use of 和 (wa) as an equivalent for relax, which is not far from the truth, but means so much more, to a point where it makes me think that every aspect of this release is in perfect harmony with the rest. While technically it is correct to translate 和 as relax, or even harmony, there is a lot of cultural background being lost in translation. “For most Japanese, 和 is a feeling close to perfection: a group situation in which everything goes smoothly, without contestation or ill will, everyone knows their place and act accordingly.” And I think it is through this 和 that Lucy attempts to connect us with each other.

The fact that I tend to discover new layers of meaning every time I approach this release makes me think that, even though physically speaking this EP is a finished product, “Eat Drink Shop Relax” is not actually the end result. There is a constant dialogue going on between Lucy and the listener, opening up the release to a broader meaning and dimension of understanding. I could go on and wonder whether the order of the words points out to a cyclic pattern, an eternal return, from which we should break out, but I’d rather stop, relax, and listen to the music.

You can listen to snippets of it below or head over here to buy it.