ROTWANG: Awful (The Conspiracy Of Equals)


Posted on Jun 23rd 2010 01:12 am

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Rotwang: Awful

The Conspiracy Of Equals 2010
12 Tracks. 34mins48secs

Amazon UK: DLD US: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

Putting people’s back up before you’ve even made an impression is perhaps not the best way to get noticed for all the right reasons, but it seems like it is the angle Mark Rahman, a musician from Princeton, New Jersey, chose when he dropped a little bit of white powder in the envelops accompanying the demos he sent to record labels. While it is likely that this closed him many doors, it unexpectedly opened one when one of these demos landed on the desk of Jeremiah Trudeaux and he decided to set up The Conspiracy Of Equals in order to release Rotwang’s debut album. So, it seems almost logical that, pushing the anti-promotion a step further, Rahman decided to mark the occasion by promising titling the record Awful. If this all smells a bit too much like a schoolboy prank too far, and actually feels a tad tired, the resulting record actually proves to be a more interesting slice of electronic music than one could expect coming on the back of all this.

Rotwang crams quite a lot in the half hour that this album lasts, from swirling orchestral swathes and random vocal samples to hyperactive bleepy electronica, Aphex-like stuttering beats and folk even, and it has to be said that, despite the patchwork-like approach that defines the entirety of the record, there is definitely some inspired moments to be found here. The album opens with a pretty lush cinematic orchestral sequence which is soon overcome by a pretty insistent beat while a little melody circles above. It rapidly becomes a pretty hectic template, which echoes down the rest of the record in various shapes and forms. The Savage which follows for instance appears at first like an extension of 1 Player, but, while the setting is not much different, the brushes of gritty electronics that are scattered all over it give the piece an interesting old school touch, while later on, I Am A Virus appears even more manic and disconcertingly catchy, and Cryptozoology, which is at first quite a playful little affair, sinks into much darker shades past the half way mark, and continues to descend deeper into murky grounds until its end.

At times, Rahman drifts into much harsher and more abrasive terrains. On Holiday, layers of distorted electronics are stuck against a fairly dense rhythmic section for most of the piece, while on the short and not-so-sweet An Auricle Flower, similarly warped and discordant noises are assembled into a pretty loose form before eventually mutating into a much smoother synthetic sound wave as Colorized Moving Pictures kicks in.

The album apparently originated as a pretty ambient piece of work before Rahman eventually lost interest and started play up with his machines. There are however some remains of this much more atmospheric approach, at times buried under layers of drums and sounds, at others left much more exposed, as is the case on the short shimmering Corrupted, which is not without recalling some of Clark’s more subtle soundscapes, on the opening moments of Mouseland or on the rather impressive Trim Trab, which closes the proceedings here, while on Journal Square, it is as if Rahman has slowed down the frantic pace of one of his earlier  tracks to reveal its hidden beauty.

Awful is not without its faults, its greatest being to wear its influences (Aphex, μ-ziq, a touch of Squarepusher and a hint of Vibert to sum it up) proudly on its sleeves. This at times overshadows Rotwang’s own vision and distorts the focus, but one cannot remain insensitive to the bric-a-brac aspect of the record and the sheer energy that results from it.


Rotwang (MySpace) | The Conspiracy Of Equals
Amazon UK: DLD US: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

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