New Beta Vol. 1

Diagonal Diagonal 038 LP
  • LP: Ltd. to 500 copies
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Powell returns to the fray with New Beta Vol. 1 - seven upfront and disarmingly colourful tracks that harness a renewed energy following the intense period of production behind his densely packed debut LP, Sport [XL, 2016]. Thanks, perhaps, to a looser approach and influx of new ideas and machines, the results find him at his most playfully experimental and nuanced, revealing new aspects to his mongrel sound not heard in previous releases.

New Beta Vol. 1 will remind you of what made Powell’s music so exciting in the first place - goofy, unhinged sounds sculpted into hard-to-resist and unpredictable arrangements - but in a brighter rush of clashing tones and splintering rhythms that reinforce his roots in jungle/DNB, wave and early Belgian techno. The result is something comparable to a puckish take on AFX’s mutant Analords or Actress’ discrete circuits.

This first volume [there may or may not be more] is effectively the sound of someone raised on all the raving music that the UK post-2000 and the internet has to offer. But rather than some millenial emperor’s new clothes, New Beta weaves its references obliquely throughout the record. Whether in the curdled gob of chromatic acid opener Teddy, the clash of tart electro arpeggios and stepper drums of Freezer, or the off-the-cuff electro BEATdown of The Bust, Powell persistently transcends his influences in a way that’s key to all his work and always thrilling to hear - proving how to do reverential without being derivative.

Despite the range of material on offer [this is more mini-LP than EP], it’s testament to Powell’s vision that they still sound like him overall. And if any one track sums up this distance from, and consistency with, his early work, it’s the rare beat-less outing of EP closer Electric Sheep, whose visceral, strobing formation betrays a burnt out and unusually sentimental aspect to an artist best known for all-out hedonism.

Cocking a wink at the upfront sonification and syncretic mutations of late ’80s Belgian New Beat in both name and form, New Beta Vol. 1 identifies Powell as a more self-aware and emotional Johnny Bravo for electronic music in 2017, serving to subvert the ‘roid-rage trudge of EDM and the prosaic mundanity of grid-locked line-dance music with a daringly screwball, anachronistic approach to making dancers feel strange in the rave.

Powell: New Beta Vol. 1

Teddy Powell
Freezer Powell
Wormhole Powell
97 Powell
The Bust Powell
Dogs On Acid Powell
Electric Sheep Powell

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