Service Provider — the new record from the U.K. duo Modern Technology, which is available now via Human Worth — feels ferocious. The songs pack a raging, searing brand of noise rock, with super heavy riffs that hit consistently hard, shuddering basslines, and earth-churning drum rhythms. The record as a whole feels like it’s somehow musically captured ominous rolls of thunder reverberating across some worn-down cityscape, as if a big storm is rolling in right as those in its path could really use a break. The record feels like a poignant and memorable dive right into the churning core of the tension — and the musical chops that underpin this record poignantly outline the experience. The heavy riffs and propulsive rhythms feel weighty.
Capturing the Energy — The Songwriting Process
“The writing process for us is always quite organic, with just the two of us in a room jamming out riffs and throwing around ideas, and then seeing how the songs form,” the band’s drummer Owen Gildersleeve explains. “We’re a live band at heart, and I think that’s captured in our music, and the fact we tend to write stuff we can also play live as a duo. The music is also a real chance for us to vent, especially with so much chaos and unrest going on around us. So the recording of this album was a really cathartic experience, allowing us to release our tension and voice our feelings, with all of that pent up energy finding its way into our music.”
Service Provider carries a certain timelessness — it could have come out 20 years ago, and it could have not dropped until 20 years in the future. There’s a feeling that the album’s invigorating energy would have landed with a powerful thud either way. The immediate personability of the album’s guiding spirit seems to deliver that persistently enrapturing spark. It feels raw and real.
Gildersleeve credits recording artist Wayne Adams with helping zero in on “capturing that live sound,” adding that he “really understood what we were about and the energy of our music and the need for a live approach to best represent what the record was about.” After all, in addition to the power of the live performance, the themes that Modern Technology deal with in their lyrics are very real and in the streets, so to speak. The album’s lyrics deal with issues like the suffocating undercurrent of the onslaught of modernity. The lengthy, heavy yet krautrock-leaning closing track “Life Like,” for instance, includes the lines: “Our faces/ Are Swallowed in Light… We Cradle/ A World of Anxiety.” As those lyrics underscore, Service Provider really zeroes in on a very personal-feeling perspective on the chaotic state of the world.
The Themes of Service Provider
The album feels heavy and sonically hammering, and it also wavers like a musical encapsulation of a thread of distinctly modern desperation born from listlessness and alienation.
“Personally speaking — It’s been a big part of my adult life,” vocalist/ bassist Chris Clarke explains, discussing the anxiety in the record. “Having a sister who works in the NHS on the psychotherapy side attuned me to mental health at an early age. When we recorded our [Human Worth] EP back in 2018, we had no grand intentions of the release being in the world other than capturing a period of writing that Owen and I originally started as a cathartic release of strain within our own lives. When we had interest through Cruel Nature Records we felt it would be remiss of us not to use it as a vehicle to help support others in difficult and often fraught situations. Everything else was just built from those foundations — from the Human Worth nights to Owen’s label of the same name. The principle of giving through music still underpins.”
Gildersleeve agrees. “Like Chris, the themes of anxiety have been a big part of my adult life, and I’ve had some bad periods of depression over the years and had to do a lot of work on my anxiety to get through it all,” he shares. “One thing I’ve always found helps is playing music, and so the band has become this great space to release that tension. So when it came to releasing our music we felt that it would be great to try and give back to the charities who help people in the positions we’ve found ourselves in and those who are doing much worse. So that’s when we started pushing the charity side of our music, giving proceeds to charities who support people in crisis.”
A portion of the profits from Gildersleeve’s label, Human Worth, go to charity, and there are “some exciting things in store for the coming months” with the label, he shares.
Bringing the Musical Pieces Together
Clarke and Gildersleeve work diligently to capture the particular tone that they’re going for with their music, they explain. The drive for catharsis that underpinned their earliest work together continues into Service Provider, and they take a rather sonically immersive approach to capturing that tension. Listening to the album feels a bit like stepping into the mentally chaotic experiences themselves.
“We tend to gravitate towards building claustrophobic, often overwhelming sound,” Clarke shares. “This release was no different — we wanted it to be a reflection of our current time, to feel relentless and disarming and yet reflective and somber in parts. Overall the aim was for it to be confrontational, but not unapproachable. When we write, we write loud — the primal, dense sonic tapestry we hope to achieve has to be written like that. You have to really feel it. We tend to test our new material live before committing to it, that way we have a real sense if something is landing as we hope. We like to record live in the room too — We’re in the speaker looking for interesting, caterwauling feedback, and utilizing that space, almost as another band member.”
Clarke also works with a wide palette of pedals, which “help build tension and balance through the layers within the composition, as well as to give greater contrast, so once it all kicks in the heavier parts come in feeling really overwhelming,” he shares. Influence-wise, Clarke and Gildersleeve draw from a varied palette — Clarke was apparently more involved with punk and noise, while Gildersleeve performed more doom and sludge (and has been a fan of the output from Hydra Head Records, which he feels informs the band’s “approach [to] music and visual identity,” he explains).
Connecting with the Music Community
As Service Provider circulates among listeners both new and old, Clarke shares that he feels that the sound and lyrical perspectives on the album “really are in equal parts important.”
“We really enjoy the energy and tension as a two-piece playing live,” he shares. “The album was entirely recorded as a live set-up, with our amps feeding into the drums and vice versa. The saturation of noise, although often impenetrable is really nuanced and one we were keen to capture. The lyrics are also really important to us. A lot of time was spent honing, and crafting the words so they had purpose. With so few elements to hide behind in a two piece band— the lyrics, and their delivery become remarkably important — and to that extent, incredibly revealing. We wanted the lyrics to straddle irony, word play and sarcasm — Juxtaposing aphorisms with seriousness and all with an intentional degree of interpretation.”
Bands operating in the current moment have a chance to dive into and explore the tension around us.
“I’d love to see bands and musicians continuing to speak out about what’s going on around us in the world and to keep trying to help those in worse positions to ourselves,” Gildersleeve shares. “We’re in a fortunate position as musicians with people listening to what we say, and I think it’s important to try to use that opportunity to speak out for the people whose voices can’t be heard, as that’s sadly an ever increasing issue. We should also keep coming together and speaking about our own experiences, as we’re all going through lots of different things, especially at this ridiculously stressful time. It would be great to use those experiences to try to strengthen our community, as we’re all in this together!”
Featured image via Jose Caamaño
Listen to Service Provider below: