OBERMAN KNOCKS: 13th Smallest (Aperture Records)


Posted on Feb 16th 2009 01:52 am

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Oberman Knocks: 13th Smallest

13th Smallest
Aperture Records 2009
10 Tracks. 47mins45secs

Like an ice-cold Autechre starved of natural light and oxygen, Oberman Knocks dispenses incredibly dense and suffocating soundscapes, where sounds are shredded and pulverised, beats constantly falter or freeze in mid-loop and occasional shards of human voice get caught in the complex set of mechanical cogs that maintain this machine alive.

Released on Andrea Parker’s new Aperture imprint, set up to release conceptual experimental works, 13th Smallest is the debut album from Sheffield-born, south-London-based Nigel Truswell, who has previously recorded as Alkin Engineering and WG Machines and released music on Static Caravan, Unlabel and October Man Recordings amongst others. Truswell lists influences ranging from funk, Motown and hip-hop to labels such as Warp, Skam or Ninja Tune. The dense atmospherics in which the ten tracks of this album are steeped in certainly evoke the starker, darker side of Autechre (think the industrial undertones of Tri Repetae blended with the organic formations of Chiastic Slide and drastically slowed down and twisted), brushed with isolationist hues reminiscent of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 and dense electronics worthy of Bola or Freeform. The Autechre connection hangs over Oberman Knocks even more as it is apparently after receiving encouragement from Sean Booth and Mira Calix’s Chantal Passamonte that Truswell began making music.

There is very little to hang on to other than the haunting electronic sound waves and chaotic beats here. Melodies come in short supply, and rarely materialise beyond a few lines at a time before vanishing entirely, and the sonic structure doesn’t vary much from one track to the next. Working with a rather rudimentary set up consisting of three pieces of software, a minidisc recorder and a cheap microphone, Truswell creates impressive textures, which he weaves into dark slabs of mechanical-sounding electronica and develops over the course of the whole album. Right from the onset of Bronic to the last moments of Turton Hacks, Truswell relentlessly dredges the same groove, yet he manages to constantly bring something fresh and new to his soundscapes, whether it is the distant shouts of Motor Sepple Freak, the comparatively Spartan glow of Indomine Rhittiger Plans By Four and Walker’s Ret-Ret Hive, which sound like a deconstructed Burial played at a tenth of the speed through a contaminated sound system, the haunting drone that appears to tie Lackey Remand together, or the aural beauty of Beckerton First Draft. With very little to work from, and a constrained environment, Truswell develops surprisingly evocative and cinematic compositions, and manages to succeeds in creating a convincing narrative throughout.

13th Smallest may not be a record to put in every hands, and its dark seismic beats and claustrophobic soundscapes may disconcert, but Nigel Truswell has certainly created with this first album a strong and memorable piece, which, if it is anything to go by, promises much not only for Oberman Knocks’ future, but also for that of Aperture.


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2 Responses to “OBERMAN KNOCKS: 13th Smallest (Aperture Records)”

  1. THE 2009 REVIEW | themilkfactoryon 13 Dec 2009 at 7:53 pm

    […] KNOCKS 13th Smallest Aperture […]

  2. […] with Andrea Parker via Mira Calix’s Chantal Passamonte, Truswell released his debut album, 13th Smallest, on Parker’s burgeoning new imprint, Aperture, three years ago. Dark, intricate and post […]