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USALT-4_ContainerS noise merchant, Container has carved a new niche in the ever-growing electronic landscape. ANDREW NELSON gets the lowdown on mutant techno and the brave new world it’s created for our protagonist.

Noise as a musical genre has its origins in Luigi Russolo’s 1913 manifesto, The Art Of Noises, but typically, today, it’s a style where conventional use of melody, harmony and rhythm is often dispensed, replaced by cacophony, feedback, distortion, volume and well, noise. 

Ren Schofield aka Container is perhaps the most prominent of a number of (mainly American) noise artists who, since around 2010, have been incorporating structured beats and elements of techno into their productions, exposing themselves to a whole new audience and introducing a new sub-genre of mutant (or weird) techno.

The success of 2011’s Overflow and the follow-up simply titled, LP has led to the self-effacing Schofield being thrust into an alien environment where clued-up clubbers from around the globe have been stomping feet and pumping fists to his low-tech industrial flavoured beats.

“It’s been a wild ride!” he exclaims from his Rhode Island home, shortly before embarking on a tour that takes in the UK, Russia, Spain, France and Switzerland as well as Australia. “Playing for ten minutes to maybe 20 people in someone’s basement for 30 dollars and then spending half of that on beer before falling asleep under the kitchen table was normal for me at one point. Coming from that background into a professionally run techno club is absolutely insane. They want you to play for an hour, they know exactly what time you’re going to play at, if you stop playing before the DJ after you is ready and there’s even just a minute of silence the promoter gets really upset, but hundreds of people come, you get paid decently and there’s free beer, so basically I can’t complain. But it’s definitely been a humorous transition!”

The switch hasn’t always sat comfortably and Schofield isn’t going to be reaching for the glow-sticks and whistle just yet. “Club and DJ culture is totally foreign to me,” he says. “When I play in a proper dance club I have no idea what to do with myself after I’m done playing. It’s kind of weird to just stand there and stare at the DJ, I’m not really one for dancing, and there’s not usually anywhere to sit. Generally I find the club experience to be pretty awkward.”

But his success isn’t the equivalent of a five-year-old selling a crayoned scribbling as modern art for millions of dollars. His productions are composed on vintage analogue equipment and listening to the likes of recent releases, Interior and Treatment or his remix of Fourtet’s latest, Kool FM, it’s evident they add something different from the formulaic computer generated blandness sometimes on offer.

It seems this lack of a past with the genre has allowed for something different to be created, without being weighed down by historical baggage. “I knew basically nothing about techno when I started Container,” he explains. “A lot I hear doesn’t really do anything for me, and I feel that most of my inspiration is drawn from other types of music and then applied to techno.”


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