WRITTEN BY: Jacob Colker
For Wyatt D. Stevens’ first release of 2021 under his MoMA Ready alias, the multimedia artist gives listeners more of what he is known for. Eclectic ambient techno cuts are all over this album, at times calm and collected, and at other times hard hitting.
Stevens has had a rapid rise to fame in the New York House and Techno scene in the past few years, releasing music since 2017 in high volumes. In 2020 alone, Stevens released 4 albums, and 7 singles/EPs under multiple aliases. Most notable is his collaboration with AceMo (Adrian Mojica), to form AceMoMA. The Group started the year by doing the first BBC essential mix of 2021, a prestigious radio mix series taken on by the likes of Daft Punk, Jamie XX and Flying Lotus.
Body 21 is the third of MoMA Ready’s “Body” compilation series. Body 17 and Body 18 came out in 2018 and comprised of outtakes and unmastered tracks created between 2016 and 2018. Body 21 is no different, made up of loose tracks produced between 2016 and 2021.
The Compilation itself totals 21 songs and runs at 1 hour and 48 minutes. At times the never-ending barrage of percussion has the listener yearning for the dance floor, but even some of the most experienced ravers might get bored halfway through. MoMA Ready focuses on minimal, abstract beats on this album, just about stripping the tracks down to only the bass and drums.
On “Carry On” and “Monica Hydro Dub,” the minimalism works. The bass, ambient loops and stabbing kick drive the listener deeper and deeper into a trance, and conjure images of raving in post-apocalyptic bunker deep underground.
Not all the songs bury the listener in deep industrial techno, some tracks show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Songs like “A House Dub” provide a break from the bleak beats, with uplifting and playful harmonies over a thumping house beat. “Program Director” even supplies some comic relief, as a disembodied voice tells the DJ to “stick with the program… if you’re going to do something you should just regularize it.” The overdub continues to talk about how MoMA shouldn’t mess with the speaker’s “precious techno.” For a genre which takes itself too seriously at times, it is refreshing to hear MoMA acknowledge how silly techno purists can be.
The other tracks on the compilation show Stevens’ adventures into ambient music, as some oddly calming beats like “Backroom Trouble Sway Dub” and “On Fire Tonight” sound like they could appear on a “lo-fi house to study and relax to” playlist. These tracks take the listener far from the dancefloor, juxtaposing the more abrasive songs on this album that throw the listener into the middle of the mosh pit.
Many of the tracks on this compilation are forgettable. Nearly 2 hours of undistinguishable minimal techno can bore even someone on molly. Although there are some songs that stand out on this release, the majority of the cuts blend into one another, allowing the more notable tracks to fade into the background.
Although MoMA Ready shows his mastery at creating atmosphere, his first release of 2021 is not what listeners were hoping for from the high-profile producer. The inability to test these tunes out in the club may give some explanation as to why they were released. Fortunately, there is a wealth of music produced by Stevens to dive into, if this is not his finest.