Client_03 – “Compliance” (Client_03) [May 26, 2023]

One of the illest electro projects in the scene, Client_03 questions the role of machine learning in society on the most recent self-released EP, “Compliance.”

One of the most accurate descriptions of Client_03 was under a video on YouTube that simply said, “Client_03 y’all” in a very understated reverent tone, at once acknowledging that you should know, and that’s all you should know. If that’s the end of the story, it would be such a simple review. But the anonymous project by Client_03 is both an expression of the ultimate in modern electro and a deep statement about technology and moving forward as a human being within this world. 

The prior release of the absolutely mental track “Property Stream Divider” comes from a development of a conversation with an AI about interpersonal relationships on “Interpersonal Relationship Assessment,” and on this release, there’s an increasing leeriness towards identity, robots, content creation, and scraping of the internet for content for others without any sort of acknowledgment of the origin with “Large Language Model” content creators. 

Client_03 flirts heavily with anonymity, yet similarly with losing an identity of their own creation. And it’s the feeling of the lack of control and being forced to comply as a living entity within this world that has been one of the main subject matters in Client_03’s work for the last several years. 

On the title track “Compliance” for this EP, that theme is still there, repeating the words “control, compassion, and compliance” while giving us a deeply ill groove from the classic Detroit era. It’s a reminder that Detroit Electro grew out of a sort of late ‘80s to early ‘90s decay where the workers and the community were destroyed by technological advancement. Since a lot of jobs in Detroit were taken by robotics and automation. Their future was predetermined, and they had no choice other than to stay in poverty or leave. In a future where AI will take our creative aspirations.. what sort of emotional and cultural decay will we have to comply with as a result?

“Principal Excitation Circuit” explores sexual relationships with the robots with a repeated and delayed sample most famously used by Coldcut’s “Seven Minutes of Madness” remix of Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid In Full.” “The music just turns me on” except the sample in this context feels sort of uncomfortable and insists that you turn the robot on in a double entendre. The music itself is a very sultry, bump-and-grind groove definitely made to loosen up your hips.

“Corruption Tracker” provides an inquisitive questioning sound to the beats, as if it would be a soundtrack to someone doing infosec on foreign nationals. The beats are very ill, and some of the most sinister bass of any recent electro in recent years. The track establishes a theme with the questioning synth lines and the bassline that’s a bit far off from resolution musically; suggesting that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll never find it.

Lastly, “UncompileDotSelf” is another reference to “code that has not yet been translated into machine-readable form” suggesting that in order to stay valid in the form of human expression, you must not compile yourself into any sort of way a computer can understand. As such, the track here feels more personal and expressive and stays away from the themes of computer dominance and control. 

The lore of Client_03 does sort of read similar to Drexciya, where there’s this fictional world of subaquatic humans fighting for their survival. However, the subject matter with Client_03 is very in step with the simultaneous fascination and wariness of technology featured in the electro realm. But, the danger of these machines in our society and how we live with them is something we should be currently concerned with and discussing. How do we relate to this? What can we do to be human and have a better sense of control? Maybe we do as Ken Kesey suggests. ‘Try [to] paint a picture of it on a wall. Drum to it. Sing to it. Dance to it. This [will] give you a handle on it.’ 

Client_03 seems to say the only way we can grasp a firm sense of self in the face of a looming creative dystopia is to dance to it and make songs about it. Sound advice indeed.

-Sean Ocean

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