A rallying cry delivered through carefully-constructed and perfectly-mixed techno beats.
Paula Temple has been working at the grimy intersection of noise and club music for well over a decade now. She’s used live performance, mixes and singles as a medium for her craft, but only at this point in her career is she releasing her proper debut record, Edge of Everything. While the long gap between Temple’s beginnings as an artist and the release of this album doesn’t necessarily equate a similar gestation time, there is a feeling of labored perfectionism on Edge of Everything. The end result is, from start to finish, unapologetically massive, a rallying cry delivered through carefully-constructed and perfectly-mixed techno beats.
The earliest example of the truly powerful music Temple creates is the two-part “Joshua and Goliath.” Presented in both a “techno” and a “slow” version, the composition shows Temple’s adeptness at sound design and tension. While the faster iteration is invigorating with its body-moving energy, it’s the half-speed, heavier rendition that speaks more. The sense of space in the mix, from the twinkling arpeggios to the crunchy low-end, is a subject at which to marvel. It takes the standard techno riff found in the track’s first half and unravels it into an expansive piece of music that is equal parts empowering and fear-inducing.
The contrast between industrial dance beats and drones carries throughout Edge of Everything. Despite the album’s overt techno leanings, Temple is at her best when she explores more spacious qualities. Drifting little intros, outros and interludes within each track suggest breathing room between sections of beat-heavy madness, but the thick, oppressive textures of these droning bits give them the urgency they need to fit in with the album’s bleak tone. The brief “Open the Other Eye” succeeds in incorporating the best of each world. It retains the semblance of a beat, but one buried behind walls of stacked harmonies and echoing frequencies for a hypnotic effect.
“Nicole” is the most outwardly ambient track here. Temple’s shifting layers and stuttering synths recall Oneohtrix Point Never’s Rifts, a comparison that seems far away from the hard-edged industrialism on the rest of Edge of Everything. When the album discards this dreaminess and segues back into its normal onslaught for the lengthy “Raging Earth,” this moment of respite feels instantly dwarfed by its successor’s swelling, dissonant strings and syncopated groove. On an album that contains something as alarming as the jackhammer tempo of “Future Betrayed,” this semblance of peace was doomed to be only temporary.
The general anxiety of Edge of Everything culminates in the multi-faceted “Cages,” a track buoyed by a robotic voice repeating the titular word. The stiff repetitions and general darkness of the track give the listener a feeling of being boxed-in, and “Cages” serves as the true climax to the dystopic portrait Temple paints throughout the album. The two tracks that conclude the album inevitably feel less-than-final after this momentous occasion. The only exception is a slight note of sentimentality in the arpeggiating synths of the closer “Dimension Jumping,” as if Temple is searching for one last escape from the constrictive textures that surrounded her earlier.