While his earliest releases such as 2010’s ‘Fram’ 12” on Hessle Audio saw him initially associated with a post-dubstep sound, over the last seven years South Yorkshire electronic producer Blawan (real name Jamie Roberts) has emerged as one of the figureheads of industrial techno, a scene that’s enjoying a particular resurgence in the UK, thanks to the ongoing efforts of the likes of Regis and Surgeon. While Blawan’s released an impressive volume of EPs and 12”s over the years, he still hasn’t gotten around to releasing a full-length album, although he’s teased out details in interviews.
In some senses, this latest release on his own Ternesc label ‘Nutrition’ is the closest he’s gotten so far, with its six new tracks stretching across a double 12” EP set that comes in at a combined running length of 40 minutes. As with much of Blawan’s output so far, there’s a distinct emphasis on dancefloor functionality and dancefloor efficiency to the six tracks collected here, lending the frequent sense that you’re missing much of the main point listening to this on anything besides a cavernous club PA.This qualification aside however, it’s Blawan’s attention to unsettling minor details and off-centre elements lurking within the relentless metallic thump of these tracks that continues to impress.
‘Mayhem’ uses scraping industrial tones to create a treacherous feel, smearing them over a backdrop of thudding 4/4 kickdrums and shuffling muted hi-hats, but it’s the ominous circling bass tones, treated vocal whoops and eerie ambient hums that really send the chills up the spine here, conjuring up the sense of some streamlined machine hurtling through the black void of space as the snares lock in and tighten up. ‘Fawner’ meanwhile sends a dark analogue electro bassline tumbling against spectre-like ambient howls and corkscrewing percussive tones as icy synth arpeggios unfurl out of the darkness, before ‘Atlas’ unleashes a maximalist rush through throbbing tribal techno rhythms that winds snake-like robotic bass sequences against a vast backdrop of unsettling dubbed out ambience and flickering melodic textures.
It’s closing track ‘Calcium Red’ that offers up one of this EP’s most intriguing moments, scattering brittle distorted percussion like shards of twisted metal against flickering rhythms as ominous pitched-down vocal samples murmur against evil fuzzed-up synths – indeed, it’s as darkwave as they come. Storming stuff from Blawan – now, where’s that album?