Review: Killawatt – Bring Down The Walls EP [OSMUKLTD035]
Splicing elements of industrial techno’s hypnotic thud, the submerged psychoacoustics of dub, and bass rooted in sound-system values, Killawatt’s latest offering for Osiris, “Bring Down the Walls” culminates into an engrossing and fully realized aesthetic that pushes the techno x dubstep axis to its logical end-point. Three of the tracks present expand upon the techno outings that marked his “Opposing Rhetoric” series and his collaborations with Kryptic Minds on “No Fear of Future”. Rather than simple exercises in form, Killawatt chooses to take his time performing his occult ritual, allowing each track to develop in its own loose, airy fashion. Not to be forgotten, Killawatt also makes nods to dubstep, jungle, and hip hop as well. However, it is the all-encompassing textures that give flesh to the bare skeletal pattens, not the rhythmic pivots within.
“Highway Hypnosis” ticks to water droplets as warbling calls reverberate the walls of some unknown tunnel that leads to a place after death. Grey car exhaust gusts balms your hair back, urging the track to writhe like a centipede’s legs and arms. A synth throbs and slices, mimicking the mournful, lowly calls from earlier in the track – appearing from the oily depths, streaking overhead like the orange light from wind-battered highway lamp posts. Everything becomes exposed, raw and porous, leading to a final death throw from a beast of an unknown order. Meanwhile, “Jack & His Magic Beans” thunders and snarls like a demon-spawn of the Almighty Blawan. Chest-caving kick drums, reinforced with a nagging acid line that oozes and churns, whipping a crowd into a frenzy like a bunch of BDSM pilgrims. All the while, stone against bone snares crack ribs and blacken eyes. Just make sure to get out of the way when you drop this inna dance.
A quiet chainsaw buzz hums into existence “1625” that climbs with intensity. Kevlar synths stab at the night, while a chanting witch doctor rattles his shakers to awaken the spirits in the machine. The distorted melody reappears in the middle of a chorus of voices from some other plane. The witch doctor continues his chant throughout as more machine spirits gather. Pure, efficient clunkfunk. Killawatt saves the most third eye opening, ego dissolving piece for last in the form of “Square Trip (Round Trip)”. Manipulated guitar feedback rings across the asphalt grey sky, while a Jamaican steppas riff plods across the moor. The screaming calls of dub sirens swirl with the hollow feedback, cracking the sky, ripping angel’s wings from the spine. With meditative bliss and shark-eyed intent, a Detroit indebted techno monster pushes us forward to move away from the mind and into the collective unconscious of the dance. Urging the One and not the Many to a complete loss of self. We see each other encircled by fire and water with skin like paper as three intersecting triangles burst from our third eyes. No longer body bound we float in outer space with the neon shimmer of a 303 leading the grey matter of our consciousness towards Saturn.
‘06 FWD DNA constitutes “Disconcerting”. Grinding bass sands skin from bone while a fractured rhythmic framework holds it from ripping apart at the seams. A fantastic DJ tool to pillage the floor with. Continuing further “Too Early” flowers gracefully with 3D wide-screen sound design, evoking a comparison to Deepchord’s recent album, “20 Electrostatic Soundfields”. Various field recordings of winter wind howls while smudged, pitch bent voices reflect off themselves into fractals. Each pass through each other in a nebulous and watery vapor. A melody, soft and descending, peaks out from the aquatic haze of varying hues that vacillate between grey and purple. As if out of thin air, a stripped and spartan hip-hop beat materializes, while radar beeps record the night sky. The Amen-break filled coda wrings out a little junglist torque to recapitulate Killawatt’s sonata. Enter the most experimental track, “Backed Up into a Fucked Up Recess”. The evil love child of Sunn 0))) and Shackleton. Drones of acid rain cauterize the mind while dissonant tubular bells blare, until they decide to reverse back into themselves in studio slight of hand. A noxious cloud of smog blankets everything. Multitudes of pre-Christian percussion summon Lovecraftian horrors to possess anyone in their way as the whole thing collapses in on itself like a black hole. To make a long story short, a complete mind-fuck in the best possible way.
Since 2012 Osiris has slowly inched its way from a purist foundation aesthetic to a more progressive, techno influenced sound that is now pushing its way to the forefront of underground dubstep in 2013. Fortunately, the heads over at Osiris haven’t lost their penchant for stoic aggression or their mission to destroy dances. In summation, OSMUKLTD035 solidifies not only Killawatt as a producer, but Osiris as one of the most important and genre-expanding labels– definitely a label of the year contender. Let’s hope they keep mining further down till they reach the first circle of Hell. After all, it is only in that corner that “Bring Down the Walls” can be properly understood.