Killawatt: Opposing Rhetoric Part 1 & Part 2 (Osiris UK)
Killawatt, aka Matthew Watt, has been cranking out records steadily since 2011. After digging his collaborations with Ipman I picked up this 2-parter which is easily his strongest material I’ve heard yet. The first half leans more toward deep, clear bass music, full of staggered kicks, dub decay, and a sinister low end. Intro “Two Curious Gypsies” sets the stage nicely as an ambient prologue to “Static Tension”’s deep, plodding halfbeat. It’s a pressure cooker of a track, starting off quietly and then building until it heaves with a snarly bass synth and ominous effects. “Unit 51” is the more spry companion, with a staggered kick/snare combo that maneuvers around syncopated chords and huge reverb trails.
Part 2 is the leaner, meaner sister, with 3 fully formed dark techno tracks that pulse in a more typical 4/4 fashion. All three of them would sound right at home on Sandwell District, with a big warehouse sound and distortion in the details. “Black Air” broods with intensity, a steady kick with supporting shakers and syncopation holding it steady while gloomy synths loom overhead like a vulture. The drum tracks get more aggressive as it goes on, upping the intensity over time. “Art of Discourse” continues with the techno slant, slightly less ominous than its predecessor but no less functional for the ‘floor. But the clear standout for both records is “Reactive Technique,” a repetitious techno track with detailed percussion and a completely infectious portamento synth lead that repeats throughout, only changing via modulation and loudness. It recalls the minimal, gradual shapeshifting of Richard James’s AI incarnation, Polygon Window (which is never a bad thing!).
The two separate releases really work together quite well as a pair, touching on multiple sides of darker dance music and showing off Watt’s versatility as a producer. These two distinctly different releases tie into the title effortlessly, two opposing sounds that complement each other to make for a compelling whole. He’s a talent to watch; highly recommended.