While he’s still known to many for his work as one half of now inactive nineties alternative rock / electronic band Curve, these days Dean Garcia’s creative schedule seems busier than ever. Indeed, in the last five years alone he’s released a solo album under his own name, several albums alongside his daughter Rose Berlin as SPC ECO, a collaboration with KMFDM power couple Sasha Konietzo and Lucia Cifarelli, one with Collide as The Secret Meeting, as well as band ventures as Inkraktare and Blurred City Lights. Adding to this already packed plate, this latest debut album as STFU ‘What We Want’ sees Garcia joining forces with Preston Maddox of Texas-based post-punk / industrial duo Bloody Knives.
Since the demise of Curve, one of the things that’s been apparent in Garcia’s later work is a shift away from shoegazer guitar textures towards more sheeny synthetic elements, a trend that this latest collaboration sees continuing. Indeed, the eleven electronics-dominated tracks collected here call to mind late-period UNKLE’s blend of indie-rock and post-triphop atmospherics, more than they do anything goth or industrial. ‘Secret’ opens proceedings with a swell of moody bass tones that gaves way to midtempo 4/4 kickdrums, twinkling background ambient harmonics annd stacked, fuzzed-up synths, Maddox’s curiously gentle yet barbed vocals trailing like phased ghosts against the thick brooding layers.
‘Second Time’ meanwhile sees trap-inspired snare rolls flickering beneath a slow ominous bassline and blurred synth arpeggios, Maddox’s vocals seeming to bleed out into the swirling textures as the electronics phase between the speakers, the jagged rhythms offering up the track’s sharp focus anchor. Elsewhere, ‘Deeper’ accelerates things up to dancefloor tempo, as streamlined 4/4 kickdrums power away beneath eerie minor key synth arrangements and a buzzing synth bassline, while Maddox’s gravelly vocals add a welcome rough edge that nicely balances the more pristine synthetics in the mix.
If the aforementioned track calls to mind Black Strobe’s similarly dark and jackbooted dance explorations, title track ‘What We Want’ offers up what’s easily one of this album’s most darkhearted moments as dark distorted overdriven synths writhe and surge against howls of guitar feedback and slow doomy breakbeats, the resignation in Maddox’s vocals evoking the sense of a weary prisoner trapped in some huge machine. While there’s less of a focus on guitars here, it’s dark-hued business as usual from Dean Garcia, and longtime listeners shouldn’t be disappointed by what’s on offer here.