Powell's first two EPs stood out in the field of artists exploring black-as-coal textures. His third, released earlier this year on The Death Of Rave, only furthered his spelunking mission, diving deeper into dance music. He expanded his set of tools, wielding bizarre samples in one hand ("A Band") and dance traditions ("Acid") in the other. His fourth EP, Fizz, lands on Liberation Technologies and sees him looking back on his past love affair with jungle and the early days of drum & bass. And though he’s not quite campaigning for a Metalheadz release, the influence of those genres rears its head on Fizz, which operates at a blistering pace compared to the smoulder of his old work.
The upfront attack of "Fizz" has none of the steadiness that defined Body Music. The snares flicker rapidly over the bump-in-the-night beat, which feels sped up unnaturally—think of a 33 playing at 45. The choked strum of an electric guitar intermittently builds tension only to dissipate into the track's furious turbines. Rickety and rudimentary, for all the supposed drum & bass cues, it sounds like something from a decade or two before the genre's inception.
"Wharton Tiers On Drums," named after the American avant-garde drummer, hearkens back to older Powell, the halftime cousin to the A-side's blitzkrieg. But the palette is largely the same: the drums knock dully against some invisible wall and guitar chords are fractured like glass, while bits of static and vocal detritus wedge their way in. The 90-second "Beats" picks itself up from the wreckage of its predecessor and continues the way things left off, this time eaten away by a wormy bassline. All three tracks use lifelike drum sounds (or samples), but plot them in a completely inhuman way. Powell's newest experiment is as fascinating as ever, and this time it could probably do damage a dance floor, too.