In an era defined by knowing homage and kneejerk reverence, Powell's sound is that rare thing: an utterly convincing synthesis of influences. Across two EPs on his own Diagonal imprint, post-punk's primitivist propulsion, jungle in its dystopic heyday, and the grinding implacability of industrial techno all leave audible fingerprints.
Far from a taxonomist's wet dream, though, the London-based producer massages these source materials into a sound that's both distinctive and remarkably vital. It's an approach that runs in close parallel with the likes of Blackest Ever Black—and, as with BEB's Kiran Sande, you get the sense that Powell's output is partly a provocation, a critique of the perceived insipidity of much contemporary dance music.
Powell here returns to the fray for Boomkat-run imprint The Death Of Rave. In many respects this is business as usual: a mélange of sweaty nihilist funk and scorched techno that's equal parts grim and sensual. What's striking, though, is the heightened skill with which Powell splices the claustrophobic sonics of post-punk New York with a more brazenly electronic sound palette. Take the appropriately titled "A Band," an itchy, off-grid stomper where fragments of twangy bass guitar and a sardonic vocal spar with bone-dry digital hum. Or "Oh No New York," which works to a similar formula but rolls along at a palpitation-inducing 150 BPM. "Acid" is 303 noise terror of the highest order, that most iconic of sounds crunched up into a strobing workout that recalls Russell Haswell's experiments. Finally, "Rider" ramps up the industrial dread, its caustic drones overlaid with primitive drum tattoos that lag obnoxiously behind the beat.
Tracklist: Powell - Untitled EPA1 A Band
B2 Oh No New York