OBERMAN KNOCKS: Beatcroff Slabs (Aperture Records)


Posted on Jul 11th 2012 01:40 am

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Oberman Knocks: Beatcroff Slabs

Beatcroff Slabs
Aperture Records 2012
16 Tracks. 68mins40secs

Amazon UK: CD US: CD Boomkat: CD

Oberman Knocks is the project of London-based musician Nigel Truswell. Although he relocated to London in the late eighties, Truswell’s work as Oberman Knocks owes much to the rich musical heritage of his birthplace, Sheffield, home of Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Heaven 17, ABC to Pulp, Warp or The Black Dog, who still operate from there today, to name but a few. Following a chance encounter 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 industrial, the album was an incredibly intense journey through dystopian landscapes.

Three years on, the intensity has increased drastically. Beatcroff Slabs shares much of the rugged, desolate landscapes with its predecessor, but whilst 13th Smallest collected tracks recorded over a long period of time, Beatcroff Slabs was worked on as a standalone piece, and this certainly shows in the magnitude of its compositions. Oberman Knocks exists somewhere between the highly toxic post industrial electronic landscapes of Pan Sonic and the much sleeker ambiences of Autechre, but Truswell’s vision ensures his work is utterly unique. He never feels more at ease than when he deals with fractured rhythms and angular corrosive soundscapes, assembling layer after layer of crushing noises and sounds into anarchic mechanical structures.

Amidst the chaos, Truswell manages to preserve a strong melodic element to his compositions by nurturing tiny loops and patterns and allowing them to grow and prosper until they become integrant part of his pieces. Perhaps the most striking aspect of this record however is the way Truswell offsets the extreme mechanical appearance of his music by using human voices pretty much throughout. Highly processed, at times distressed into chilling scream-like fragments, at others assembled into ephemeral chants, and used like any other components in the music, the vocal elements act as reminders than as much as the machines are key to the work, it is ultimately Truswell who directs them.

It is almost impossible not to draw a parallel with Burial, whose extensive use of ghostly processed vocals sits within his music in a very similar way to here, but once again, Truswell’s approach is entirely different. Instead of coagulating into ethereal songs, the voice samples are like punctuating calls and signals, as if Truswell had somehow captured bribes of conversations amidst the clanks and clatter of the machines, and was trying to reposition them exactly where he had found them. The result is the same though; by using heavily processed vocal components, Truswell, like Burial, highlights the intensely emotional nature of his music.

Although extremely corrosive and abstract, Truswell’s compositions are as far removed from decay and destruction as can be. These are fully functioning structures which, although appearing totally alien, and extremely complex, perform their tasks extremely successfully throughout. It is rare these days to find a truly individual artist, especially in the field of electronic music, but truly individual Truswell is. Oberman Knocks, like Autechre, Pan Sonic or Burial, occupies a unique space, away of external influences. With Beatcroff Slabs, Nigel Truswell consolidates the foundations laid with his debut album and confidently moves ahead without looking back.

A collection of remixes by artists as diverse as Plaid, Quinoline Yellow, Michna or Kero is due out on 12” and digital download is due out later on in the year.


Oberman Knocks | Aperture Records
Amazon UK: CD US: CD Boomkat: CD

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