When it was announced last year that Blawan and The Analogue Cops had collaborated for a pair of releases, it didn’t seem like the most obvious of unisons. At the time, Blawan – otherwise known as Jamie Roberts – had just released “Getting Me Down”, the Brandy-sampling white label that was already one of the summer’s biggest underground club tracks. The Analogue Cops – otherwise known as Lucretio and Marieu – had on the other hand been pushing their own brand of militant, hardware-only techno and house since 2007. The music that came out of those first two releases – the A-side of Restoration 013 and the first 12” on Vae Victis Records – was like nothing anyone had heard from Roberts, and although weighted more towards the Analogue Cops’ sound, somehow had an unmistakable heft and energy that the Italian pair couldn’t have managed alone. Looking deeper however, the three have more in common than may be immediately apparent. Roberts’ early productions, a combination of garage, techno and dubstep, were as sparse as the Cops threadbare brand of techno and house; he himself revealed in one interview that “Fram” was made using only four tracks – synth, bass, drums and vocal. They also seemed to have a shared ear for grit; the gnarled acid line of Roberts’ “Bohla” for example is as crud-encrusted as the bottom end of most of the Cops’ productions. Speaking to the trio over the phone, who, along with Roberts’ Karenn partner Arthur Cayzer – better known as Pariah – had gathered in Restoration’s Berlin HQ to make use of the Cops’ well equipped studio, I enquired how the union first came about, amid blasts of machine-made rhythms and squealing analogue noise escaping occasionally from behind the studio door.
Blawan and The Analogue Cops will revisit their Parassela project with a fresh EP, entitled Label Nightmares, set for release on Vae Victis next month.
FACT Magazine’s Tom Lea recently made the point in his review of Jam City’s Classical Curves that the “popular misconception amongst techno producers right now is that releasing music on a hand-stamped white label is somehow taking the form back to basics… but its current position at the height of techno fashion seems to miss the point – the best techno has always been synonymous with imagery”.
The Cursory EP is the second collaboration between Italians in Berlin The Analogue Cops and UK bass producer Blawan. It’s the debut release on a new label run by another Italian duo, Raw People, but what is more notable is that the release maps out new possibilities for that grey area where house, techno and bass meet. “Aurum”, with its loose, organic drums, could be easily mistaken for a Workshop release were it not for the wired vocal sample and interplay between the spacey, ambient chords and the arrangement’s cheese-wire percussive licks. “Illy” is straighter and more representative of the Analogue Cops’ approach, with its filtered groove and insistent stabs underscored by firing percussion, but it sounds functional when played next to “Quarto”.
The standout cut on the EP is based on a driving but more offbeat rhythm, while viscous acid lines cosy up to crashing cymbals, creating a woozy, edgy feeling. Put simply, “Quatro” is the kind of track that captures lost moments from late nights without making the listener feel uncomfortable. Finally, “Sickle” sees the trio return to dance floor techno, but with a difference. Blawan’s input ensures that the rolling rhythm is fluid and less regimented, while the rasping percussion that tracks the building chord is rougher than a Ryanair red-eye out of Berlin on a Monday morning.