Blawan’s gradual shift in sound to full-blown techno has been a positive and sometimes entertaining development. It was amusing to read some of the comments beside the South Yorkshireman’s set for Boiler Room last year, especially the remarks about the wild new music he was playing, when in reality he was dropping hard grooves from long-forgotten labels like the Integrale Muzique affiliated Sheep.
Scuba, Blawan, Barker & Baumecker and more will be playing Fabric on February 2, and we have tickets to the night and a clutch of Scuba gear to give away.
The next Works The Long Nights release sees Blawan and Surgeon collaborating under the Trade moniker.
Ostgut Ton have announced a forthcoming EP featuring remixes of material from Barker & Baumecker’s excellent debut album Transsektoral, with Blawan and Machinedrum among the artists involved.
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.
For a producer who has wisely spent the past year developing his sound away from the kind of ephemeral vocal hits like the Brandy bootleg “Getting Me Down” and the Moodymann sampling “What You Do With What You Have”, towards the kind of heads down, no-nonsense techno of his Clone and Black Sun releases, it seems to go against everything he’s been moving towards by revealing a track like “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?” on his Boiler Room appearance earlier this year. Lifting a sample from The Fugees’ “How Many Mics”, Blawan constructs a cartoonish nightmare of a track with its tongue firmly in-cheek, combining horror movie screams and strings, relentless 4/4, and rippling industrial stabs that seem suspended in some kind of gelatinous soup. It’s obvious from the public reaction to this track that this is what the majority of Blawan’s fans want, but is it really what’s best for him?
Karenn – the collaborative techno project of Blawan and Pariah – have just revealed details of their next EP.
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.
Announced recently in typically non standard terms, Blawan’s debut on the Hinge Finger imprint will arrive next week sporting some brilliant artwork.
While the date may change every year, it’s always easy to sense the lead-in to the annual Freerotation festival. Fevered anticipation ripples out through the niche corners of the house and techno fraternity, which in the nature of these times manifests itself in impassioned status updates, gloating tweets and lots of “look forward to seeing you!” posts between friends, artists and fans. This convivial atmosphere speaks volumes for the impact Freerotation has had in dulling the barriers between performer and punter in a small sector of electronic music, providing a utopian bubble where everyone can truly feel as one.
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”.
Could it have been a Don Corleone-esque “I’m gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse,” mumble from Third Side aka Lucretio, Marieu and Steffi that lead to the recent disbanding of the Swedish House Mafia? Regardless, Third Side and the Restoration family have always reigned supreme in the underworld of analogue house music.
At the risk of sounding like a pop psychologist, this second release on Pariah and Blawan’s fledgling label documents the first part of a remarkable journey. At one end of the spectrum are the darlings of the UK new school and at the other extreme is Dublin techno veteran Sunil Sharpe. But despite their supposed differences, the distance between them is not as great as it appears. Blawan, after all, has been supportive of techno, as his releases for Clone Basement Series, Frozen Border and R&S, as well as his recent Boiler Room DJ set – where an old release on the obscure Sheep label made an appearance – clearly demonstrate.
The Analogue Cops (pictured above) and Steffi will further cement their working relationship as Third Side with the release of Unified Fields, an album due out later this year.
It is testament to Frozen Border’s artistic vision and approach that its hand-stamped, anonymous releases have succeeded in both attracting the cream of new talent and capturing the attention of the wider techno community. Without any fuss or fanfare, the imprint has proved that it is possible for underground labels to cut through much of the hype and fanboy cultish behaviour that had engulfed techno since the minimal explosion.
Blawan has announced details of his next release, a four track EP on Frozen Border affiliate Black Sun Records.
Few producers have received as much attention as UK artist Blawan - but does he deserve the hype? This writer believes so. Blawan, along with Cosmin TRG and Martyn, has been to the fore in bass music’s crafty approximation of techno and on the evidence of his latest release for Clone, it appears that he continues to steal neo-purism’s thunder. Much of Blawan’s appeal for techno audiences is similar to the charm that Martyn and Cosmin’s productions teem with; put simply, in a world of linear conservatism, their shuffling, seemingly under-produced grooves breathe life and colour into the oftentimes monochrome form.