Review: Jozif is part of the new wave of underground house DJs, and on this compilation he displays his ability to curate a fine range of house tracks, while always retaining a soulful touch. The selection starts with the sensuous vocals and atmospheric guitar strumming of Charles Webster's "Butterfly", before moving into the mournful pianos of Burnin' Tears' "Got a Reason" and the hissing percussion and reflective vocals of YokoO's "Blinded". There are some less esoteric contributions, in particular from Silicone Soul, whose lurching bass and heavy claps make for a welcome diversion. But in the main, this is a collection of emotional house, best embodied by the dislocated chant 'loneliness, emptiness no happiness, just sadness' on Steffi's "Sadness".
Review: Since Powell last appeared on his own Diagonal Records label back in 2012 with Body Music, his unique mulch of post-punk textures, industrial techno and jerky no wave beats has taken the world by storm, seeing releases on The Death of Rave and Mute's Liberation Technologies imprint. While Powell's sound to date has been characterised by frenetic, seizure-inducing rhythms, Club Music sees Powell bring things down to a more mixable tempo. "So We Went Electric" is the closest thing to straight techno he's made, though the frazzled textures sound like more Evol than Regis, while the pumped up monosynths that drive "No U Turn" are anchored by an underlying beat and guitar shreds that sound as if they could have come from an old Neptunes beat left to rust. Finally, the Russell Haswell collaboration "Maniac" is as crazed as its name suggests, a shrewd piece of contorted midtempo noise-funk which combines the raw power of both producers brilliantly.
Review: Following on from his salvo of releases for Diagonal and Liberation Technologies, Powell has been snapped up by XL Recordings and he delivers some seriously gnarled techno grit to the label by way of gratitude. "Sylvester Stallone" is a feisty beast, revolving around a dirty bass arpeggio which provides the magnet for all manner of samples and found sounds to cling to while the drums scuff their way through in a gloriously loose-fit manner. "Smut" does away with the sturdy rhythm and instead flails down a corridor of drunken swing with a greater focus on mangling the bass line through some unfriendly processing.
Review: Upon release in 2011, Powell's debut The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh was of course notable for the inclusion of an edit from UK techno royalty Regis, but in truth Powell demonstrated enough of his own musical ingenuity to ensure any future Diagonal transmissions would be eagerly anticipated. Across the five tracks on Body Music, Powell further carves his own distinct sonic niche, drawing on a palette of sounds that includes drum patterns that operate outside standard rhythmic sense, odd vocal samples and textural repetition that burrows deep. The title track demonstrates this aptly, and along with tracks like the lolloping "Grand Street" could feasibly be very much at home on the Downwards DO series, while "Search" discards with percussive notions altogether, relying on droning sub bass experiments to draw you in.
The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh - (4:16)
09 - (6:06)
09 (Karl O' Connor remix) - (5:27)
Robotics - (3:48)
Review: The London-based Diagonal imprint launches with the sounds of label boss Powell, who calls in some UK techno royalty in the form of Regis to contribute an edit. The EP's title (The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh) immediately suggests Regis and his bleak industrial take on techno are a significant influence on Powell, yet within the opening bars such considerations are swept aside: here we have a producer wholly intent on carving his own distinctive sonic niche. On the title track that niche sounds like a lost Mute Records demo recorded in a dank Macclesfield garage, with the hollow drums looped and stripped back to their rawest form. The introduction of a distorted, crunchy bassline that precedes the track dropping out altogether for a brief moment is sumptuous! This is joined by the dread filled drone of "09", whose reverb-laden kick drum slowly emerges from the bleak landscape to create a sense of inescapable pregnant doom; the accompanying Regis remix of "09", puts clattering breakbeats pitched way down, buried beneath a hanging synth line. The brilliant dementia of "Robotics" rounds off this most excellent of releases with bizarre stop-start drum programming and a growling bassline.
The Ongoing Significance Of Steel & Flesh - (4:17) 156 BPM
Acid - (2:34) 152 BPM
So We Went Electric - (6:39) 112 BPM
Robotics - (3:48) 150 BPM
Have It - (3:18) 132 BPM
Fizz - (7:29) 160 BPM
Nude - (2:40) 160 BPM
Oh No New York - (5:23) 150 BPM
Maniac (feat Russell Haswell) - (6:19) 100 BPM
Body Music - (6:07) 148 BPM
Review: Diagonal has been one of 2014's standout labels, bringing innovation and most importantly a sense of humour to techno across a series of releases from the Russell Haswell, Bronze Teeth and more. It is however label founder Powell's own music that set the tone for the label, and on this retrospective collection the producer collects all of his music from the past three years released on labels including Diagonal, Liberation Technologies and The Death Of Rave. If you're yet to indulge in the gristly, skewed, off-centre brand of techno Powell has been blessing us with recently, this is the ideal place to get involved with one of techno's most exciting producers.
Review: With the label at the peak of its powers after a breakthrough 2014, one of the final Diagonal releases sees material from Powell's excellent Club Music EP treated and abused by the titan-esque figures of Ancient Methods and Richard H. Kirk. If you've seen Powell towering over some decks or heard his Melon Magic show on NTS it's likely you will recognise at least one of the four remixes here and it's hard to pick out one favourite. Ancient Methods goes all turbo-charged Nitzer Ebb on his opening Korpersaure91 remix of "Club Music" whilst the playfully juddering rhythms of the subsequent Pogo Im Saurebad effort should explain the title. Meanwhile Kirk boils down "So We Went Electric" to its barest rhythmic elements on a fizzing main mix whilst the accompanying dub is full on crazy.