Published Sep 28, 2016Five years following his last full-length under the moniker, Luke Slater has re-emerged as Planetary Assault Systems with a behemoth of an LP whose cinematic delirium plucks from the tropes of traditional techno. Slater uses polymorphic, otherworldly flourishes to tinge Arc Angel with an interstellar sensibility. Despite his affinity for the experimental, he's produced a versatile record whose formulaic track structures provide a base for his more out-there explorations, inviting newcomers to his body of work.
Arc Angel plays like a candid stream of consciousness — an eccentric but schizophrenic monologue that, while fluid, only occasionally adheres to the norm. Numerically organized interludes throughout the record serve as meditative, interstellar pauses that evoke the futurist motifs from which techno was born. Subsequent tracks like "Tri Fn Trp" then thematically elaborate on them, employing their tropes. As a result, Arc Angel depicts how a touchstone for characterizing a genre can be an ambitiously post-modern, non-conformist body of work at the same time.
As Slater intermittently incorporates foley and seemingly found sound recordings into conventionally structured tracks such as "Bawoo Bawoo," he challenges what constitutes as tradition within techno. While the interludes boast Slater's versatility, Arc Angel oscillates between functionality and unhinged creative expression. The three-part LP remains rooted in the purist values of techno, but distinguishes itself as an extraterrestrial entity. Whether or not the length is justifiable depends on how inclined the listener is towards traditional techno. To the passive enthusiast, tracks such as "Groucho" and "Merry Go Round" may strike the listener as too closely cut from the same stone. Others will find plenty to explore here. (Ostgut Ton)