Serena Butler - We Want Neither Clean Hands Nor Beautiful Souls
Tentatively stepping out of the shadows, the self-declared "gender-fluid digital ghost, residing inside a non-binary male human host" Serena Butler, real name Federico Cataldo, makes another bold statement in his ongoing crusade on the hot subject of gender politics. Emblazoned with the gloriously verbose title We Want Neither Clean Hands Nor Beautiful Souls, his new EP declares that the job of achieving gender equality will be a grim undertaking and accepts that blood will be spilled along the way.
Over the course of his four previous EPs Cataldo has covered a lot of ground, in both subject matter and musical style. There's been exemplary Dub Techno (Brane New World, Thas Has Such Creatures In It), the finest Ambient Techno (Submerged Underworld), edgy Ambient (When I Die I'll Go To Heaven Because I Served My Time In Hell) and uncompromising Techno (We Pay For The Violence Of Our Ancestors), with each release exploring different gender-related arguments; the result always cohesive and an intellectual delight. So while this new EP maintains the resolute focus of his previous work, the choice of powerful samples in the opening and closing tracks lends a considerable weight to proceedings, making this Cataldo's most persuasive call-to-arms yet; a proper warrior cry!
If Nature Is Unjust, Change Nature opens with a sound bite about animals and cyborgs which doesn't fail to grab your attention; Cataldo's distinctive, low-in-the-mix Techno thump providing the perfect foundation. Globular Hymen is as close as you get to a Serena Butler sound (arpegiated chords married to a 130BPM rhythm) and is arguably my favourite track here. In the same guise Science Is Not An Expression But A Suspension Of Gender lets the mind wander through dubby soundscapes and subtle textures before the arresting closing track shakes your conscience once again.
And With Fire Came Disparity ends things on a rousing, compelling note. Sampling an emotional Emma Watson from her 2014 speech on gender equality, Cataldo expertly builds a level of tension so direct, the result (for this listener anyway) was that I signed up to the HeForShe campaign (that Watson was launching) pledging my support; it's not often music has that effect on me.
- Rating: 9/10
- Listens: 15
- Highlight: Globular Hymen
- Label: Stroboscopic Artefacts
- Release Date: 20th July 2018