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Russell Haswell: Remixed (Downwards)

Three remixes of tracks originall found on Russell Haswell’s very limited vinyl release of tracks published by Regis’s Downwards label in 2012 (an LP consisting of tracks originally intended to be released on a series of 5" vinyl plates), retooled here by the likes of Regis, William Bennett, and Kevin Drumm. Anyone familiar with Haswell’s output over the last ten or more years ought to know that he’s nothing if unpredictable, though certainly not afraid to let it rip with a full-on assault of noise in many instances. I haven’t heard the originals here (and they don’t appear to be easily found online in any form, preview or otherwise) so I can only share my impressions of these tracks on their own merits. Regis’s remix of “Chua Rave” is an unexpectedly clean and accessible one, sounding more like vintage EBM meets techno than anything I’ve heard from either artist previously. The only giveaway of Haswell’s noisy tendencies is heard in the ultra-crunchy, gated samples that kick the four-minute track off, otherwise hinging on a hypnotic bassline and a steady kick and hihat combo. For anyone who checked out the pair’s Concrete Fence project that debuted earlier this year, this is some good insight into how that collaboration evolved into being.

On the flipside are two reworks of a track called “Harshing,” and it should come as no surprise I suppose that both William Bennett and Kevin Drumm deliver all out noise sculptures. Bennett, after all, made a name for himself for decades as part of the controversial industrial/noise outfit Whitehouse, while Kevin Drumm has been steadily releasing a stream of fascinatingly brutal albums of noise and doom drones. Bennett’s take on “Harshing” is quite short and has the squirmy physicality of Emmannuel Allard or Merzbow, hard to hold onto for very long as it continues to change shapes, each one sharper than the previous. Drumm’s track has a more deliberate arc to it, starting off quite scathing before shifting gears to something more mysterious and diffuse in its second half. It’s my favorite of these tracks, so far off the dancefloor that it’s almost ironic, and yet sculpted in such a way that it’s not just harsh but also quite interesting in its textures, dynamics, and details.

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