On the 16 of November, XL Recordings will release Spoken By The Other, the first EP by Powell Tillmans. It’s a collection of recordings from two of the most interesting artists in Europe, and one whose short length belies its radical tenderness, sonic language and political ambition.
Oscar Powell and Wolfgang Tillmans first met at the Tate Modern, where Tillmans was programming a series of performances to coincide with his 2017 exhibition. Quickly the conversation turned to talk of a full collaboration, and following Tillmans’s video for Powell’s track Freezer, over the Summer they got into the studio to begin making music. Recording took place in Berlin, London and Turin, with Tillmans’s vocals working in tandem with Powell’s synthetic processes. Rather than a simple producer-vocalist arrangement, explains Powell, “Wolfgang’s voice and my sounds drive toward some sort of shape or feeling together.” These tracked were workshopped live at Berlin Atonal and Club To Club in the second half of 2017, and with no small number of emails and voice files exchanged, these ideas evolved into the final EP this year.
For Powell, working with Tillmans was liberating: “I think a lot of Wolfgang’s work is to do with vulnerability. He’s never been afraid to express that, or highlight it, or lift it up as something worth showing,” he says. “Recording the EP was almost the process of losing the expectations that might be placed upon myself. People have described it as a vulnerable record, and that transparency and honesty is how I felt making it. It made me feel very out of my comfort zone, but I think working with Wolfgang has pushed me to trust myself more. To feel more.”
For Tillmans, whose support for the EU and migrants rights against the rising tide of nationalism has formed an increasingly urgent backbone of his work, the statement is political. “If everybody hardens up in this polarised world, we cannot come out of it in one piece. The solution is not to hit back all the time but make a new better alternative and which is not authoritarian and hard but is so kind, it’s combined into a love song. We can’t let the haters overtake our lives. We must keep on partying; we must keep on loving, and living.”
Spoken By The Other will be available across digital platforms, as well a Single Pressing Limited Edition 12” vinyl on XL Nov.16. Single + video for “Feel The Night” out now. x-l-r.co/spokenbytheother
RA review 3.8/5
NOW BOOKING: Powell live/DJ hybrid set brandon [at] lb-agency.net
Powell has been busy this year showcasing his chops as the punkest MF behind the decks with a rave-tastic DJ set for Boiler Room in Santiago, Chile last month and via his latest Melon Magic show for NTS, playing with a new live modular synth + DJ hybrid set up which he will be taking on the road with true to form twists and turns special to each performance of the show.
NOW BOOKING DJ and live/DJ hybrid sets brandon [at] lb-agency.net
The new LP sees the UK producer experimenting with fresh ideas while keeping close to the influences of D&B, wave and Belgian new beat that have characterized his previous records, incorporating elements of noise, techno and post-punk. As mentioned from the label, the album “experiments with new, polyphonic hardware” as well as “goofy, unhinged sounds” and “tart electro arpeggios” throughout.
Boomkat: The seven tracks of New Beta Vol.1 find smarter, looser points of connection and juxtaposition between their mutual and exclusive binds, better consolidating his dancefloor impetus with an emotive thrust that he’s previously preferred to dance around or assuage in favor of outright madness.
Diagonal is also holding its first label party in London in two years on June 15 at Electrowerkz, with live sets from Raime’s Yally project and Russell Haswell alongside DJ sets from Powell himself and Blackest Ever Black’s Kiran Sande.
If you didn’t have the chance to get your own copy, you can still listen to Freezer, the first single released, here:
Berlin Atonal 2017 returns this summer for the fifth edition inviting over 100 musicians, sound and visual artists, performers, and DJs for a five-day stretch between the 16–20 of August. The festival has just announced World Premiere collaborations from Powell x Wolfgang Tillmans, ALTAR (Roly Porter x Paul Jebanasam), and Fis x Renick Bell.
ALTAR is the surprising result of the new collaboration between Roly Porter and Paul Jebanasam. The performance based on ritual system music will provide the first look at this new project uniting the creative and technical capacities of two of contemporary music’s most powerful composers.
The electronic music enfant terrible Powell will perform with Turner prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans. The two artists have been collaborating on music which will reach ears for the first time in this live A/V show.
And the last collaboration sees live-coding mastermind Renick Bell and expert sound designer Fis link up in search of next-level sonic happenings. Starting with an injection of Fis’ gastric, sinuous sound into the cutting-edge expressive and compositional power of Bell’s live-coded algorithms, their performance plays on apparent distinctions between their live modalities.
Music can help you to discover reality in a new way. It can help you to picture your life differently, almost like a movie that sometimes you dream you are living, and then other times you actually do live. That dream may be a fight between beauty and oppression. If you are wondering how that could be visualized then just have to watch the latest Powell video directed by artist Wolfgang Tillmans.
Tillmans’ exquisitely-placed shots flit from nature close-ups to photographs of police and security forces fueled beneath by Powell’s jagged acid-techno soundtrack. “Freezer” retains Powell’s signature style, while also mining new territory – in Pitchfork‘s words: “Freezer” proves that there’s still room in his formula for some shiny new influences.
Powell performed at Tate Tanks on the 28th of April for NTS with Tillmans, whose solo exhibition at the Tate is currently on until June 11, providing the visuals for his new live set on this special occasion. A new reality is ready to begin.
Now booking Powell live A/V, live, DJ: brandon [at] lb-agency.net
We are delighted to welcome the inimitable Oscar Powell to the fold. Over the last five years, Powell has asserted himself as one of the most distinctive and difficult artists operating in electronic music today. Diagonal, the label he started back in 2011 in London just celebrated its 5th birthday last year at Berghain, having released music by the likes of Autechre, Russell Haswell, DJ Stingray, and Karl O’Connor, and Powell’s own recordings, released via Diagonal, XL Recordings, Mute Records and more, have already become classics. Taking in acid, techno, computer music, punk, late 90s tech-step and everything in between, Powell music is absolutely its own thing — mad, unpredictable, provocative, but always carried by its own infectious sense of groove — and has rightly earned him critical acclaim across both underground and mainstream press. As Pitchfork wrote of debut album Sport which dropped on XL last October: Powell music thrills and mystifies in equal measure . . . and strips dance music of its sophisticated patina, returning some of the rough-and-tumble rush that Powell remembers from his teenage days —taking drugs and dancing to jungle.
Expanding his signature style, Sport features vocal guests Jonnine Standish (HTRK), Dale Cornish, Melvin Oliphant III and Loke Rahbek (Damien Dubrovnik, Lust For Youth) and is accompanied by videos for ‘Frankie’ by Diagonal’s now ubiquitous designer, Guy Featherstone, and ‘Jonny’, chock full of melon head smashing. The album was cheekily announced via email to a fan after billboards appeared around London encouraging fans to get in touch with him; this followed his previous billboard sharing a particularly virulent email from Steve Albini about electronic music upon requesting to license a sample from Big Black. But as Resident Advisor highlights in their review: ‘Sport’ is far more than an exercise in trolling or deft guerrilla marketing. This is what happens when Powell brings mind and body together in the context of the dance floor. The result is a staggering experience, even if it’s all in your head. At the end of the day, Powell is all about having fun, as evinced in in-depth interview with FACT.
His DJ and Live shows capture the same sense of energy and wild abandon. Part club set, part DIY performance, a Powell show will thrill and bewilder, but always keep feet movin’ and bodies drippin’. As Derek Walmsley, editor of The Wire, wrote: Powell traverses the same spectrum from brilliant to dumb, from super to stoopid as The Beastie Boys circa ‘Intergalactic’, and proposes the same kind of grand unifying theory of funk as Basement Jaxx circa ‘Red Alert’.
Powell invites anyone to traverse the same bonkers spectrum with him every month via his Melon Magic show on NTS Radio, where, in 2017, he will showcase his new approach to playing live by mashing up a wide range of obscure, twisted records with live synthesizers and off-the-cuff sampling in the studio. Listen to the latest episode and get yer freak on. NOW BOOKING LIVE / DJ: brandon [at] lb-agency.net