‘Wet Will Always Dry ‘is the blistering début album by Blawan. Arriving 8 years after his first move, ‘Fram’ for Hessle Audio - during which time he’s forged the Karenn duo with Pariah, set up his Ternesc label, and played to the biggest crowds of gurners in the world - Blawan’s first LP is a gnashing statement of intent that finds him sticking ever closer to what’s served him well thus far, while also folding in subtle new traces of his own vocals to great effect.
Like the recent Surgeon album, Luminosity Device, Blawan’s first album finds him tactfully in tune with his modular set-up after years of coal-face experimentation. The result is a sound that lies right on the biting point between clarity and distortion, delivering a thrillingly caustic experience for dancers already locked his martial swagger.
That biting point is fully in effect in the hovering search-and-destroy synth tone that snakes around opener Klade, and it continues to defines the albums strongest moments, from the whipsmart mix of T++-alike hydraulics and kinetic lead of Tasser to the virulent, Haswellian snarl and gobble of North, to the stark, skeletal dancer Stell and Kalosi’s napalm burn.
It’s arguably more difficult than ever for a techno artist to eke out their own sound nowadays, but that’s just what Blawan’s done with Wet Will Always Dry. Bravo.
DJ Richard follows the ‘Path of Ruin’ to his discopocalytic sophomore LP, ‘Dies Irae Xerox’; a super robust collection of darkwave ambient, EBM and Memphis rap-style instrumentals inspired by “depictions and philosophies of the antichrist and end-times”
Picking up where he left us with the darker themes of Grind , the NYC/Berlin-stationed producer pretty much leaves the slinkier house and techno themes for dust in order to better explore mutant, classic hardcore strains of electronic music in his own way.
Opener Dies Irae Xerox could easily be mistaken for the work of Hospital Productions orderly, while the scowling 808 slap downs of Pitfall and Gate Of Roses explore rugged hip hop/electro somewhere between Pametex, SALEM and Tommy Wright III. They’re some of our favourites, along with the curdling sewer juice of Tunnel Stalker and the Cortini-esque Old Winter’s Way, but the rest of the album is strong, too; especially on its fanged dancefloor aces such as the needle-toothed EBM of Vanguard, and the doomcore slug of In Broad Daylight.
Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
Master of minimalist ambient house subtlety, Matt Karmil pivots his 4th album on Smalltown Supersound, which feels like an appropriate stable for the ambient-pop-wise turns of phrase and frayed feels in Will. Where Karmil’s preceding album and 12” with Idle Hands found him at the edge of the ‘floor, this album’s drowsy zig-zag between rustling ambient textures and purring minimal house is for the walk home from the club, or the morning after...
“Karmil’s fourth album, Will, is released on the Norwegian Smalltown Supersound label – the home of Lindstrøm among others. Even more than before Matt has managed to combine his love of the graceful forward motion of minimal techno beats with the deeply granular textures and meditative chambers of reverb and delay. Mastered by the careful hand of Rashad Becker at the legendary Dubplates & Mastering plant, this driverless vehicle takes bumps and curves with ease, but passes through enough scuzzy neighbourhoods to make the journey more memorable.
Before you get to the long ambient closing track, ‘Maffé’, Will contains its share of muted bangers like ‘Morals’ and ‘Can’t Find It (The House Sound)’. While these would vibrate well on the dancefloor, the experience for Matt is primarily a private domestic one. ‘I like to try to create a room to visit, and while it's nice to have details and look out the window occasionally, the fundamental is the room/environment itself – my personal enjoyment of music away from the club is often centred around long form and ambient works.’”
Peggy Gou moves to Ninja Tune for Once, another precursor to her début album, following a brace of 12"s for Technicolkour, REKIDS and Phonica White in 2016.
Blending tender but rugged house memes from Detroit, Chicago and Berlin with Korean vocals, Peggy nails a winner with the debonaire bubble and swang of It Makes You Forget (Itgehane), while Hundres Times catches her in jazzy Chicagoan flow nodding to classic Gemini vibes, and Han Jan is a slinky stripe of electro-pop with wicked mix of half-rapped, half-sung Korean/English vox.
Rian Treanor returns with a whitelabel 12” featuring hyper spins on ’80s synth-pop, Lollywood soundtracks and ’90s Eurodance, rendered in his inimitable, disruptive style...
Across four radical edits, familiar and obscure ohrwurms are dissected and flipped in thrilling new ways, rendering razor sharp and playfully nutty updates of Eurodance set-pieces and seminal synth-pop classics.
Rian extracts and accentuates their hooks in series of jabbing, asymmetric reductions for the ‘floor with results intended to rewire muscle memories and inject the club with a healthy dose of advanced daftness. In each part Rian exerts a singular spin on timeless evergreens, demonstrating his roots in hip hop and UK dance music’s sampling cultures, while exemplifying an inexorable, personalised push for new patterns of dancefloor possibility.
All material has been thoroughly disruptive in a variety of situations, from midsummer rites at IMMA to Radio 1Xtra to freak raves in Salford and, most recently, as part of Rian’s Boiler Room performance in Helsinki, the latter of which drew opposing criticism from its YouTube viewers; prompting Wayne Cloete to remark “what do you call this cos it aint music its like a production that went wrong or still trying to figure out the beat”, whereas Viktor Štech claimed Rian to be a “genius with rhythm.” To be fair they’re both right, but only one of them knows it.
Basically the A-side is mental party fuel - especially if you like alcopops, Lollywood soundtracks or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - while the B-side turns 3 mins of ‘80s pop brilliance into a 14 minute+ monster, cannily riffing on the idea of deferred gratification.
Shelley Parker churns up a strong mix of concrète and bass music styles in her ruffneck debut for Hessle Audio
Marking the final Hessle Audio 12” of 2018, Shelley synchs bare bones breaks with seismic subs and field recordings of Carnival and her work for choreography to serve a hyperrealistic sensation of London in flux.
From her construction site stepper ‘Red Cotton’, uncannily recalling Nomex & Scud’s ‘Piling Machine’ , thru the spectral convolutions and ricocheting echoes of Notting Hill Carnival laced into ‘Angel Oak’, and the clash of smooth pads and bagging textures in ‘Masonry Pier’, Shelley’s soundsphere is impressively unique and subtly suggestive, while the remix finds Ploy bringing the groove forward with patented percussive chops and fine-tuned dancefloor suss.