I had a lot of fun making breakfast this morning; flipping bacon and scrambling eggs while I bounced around the kitchen to Blawan’s music. His tracks get me so hyped, at times it feels like my head will explode from too much excitement. Blawan, aka Jamie Roberts, possesses an understanding of rhythm and percussion that’s just…menacing. He’s like some sort of dark shaman techno character, and I’m his pupil, desperate to hear his teachings. I first started hearing about Blawan from Mary Anne Hobbs, whose supported his tunes on her Xfm show and done some back to back sets with the UK based produer. Then I heard What You Do With What You Have in a Jamie XX mix, and I was like “what is this?!”. Now that I’ve gotten more familiar with his releases and his approach to producing, I’ve got to share his dark vibes on Disco Droppings.

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Often, when I look into an especially distinct artist, they talk about restricting themselves. In an interview with RA in November of this year, he was asked about using a machine as opposed to a computer, which he first started making tunes on. Jamie says, “One of the main problems—and a lot of people will testify—is that with a computer you can do too much. You have to be restrained to be really good at writing stuff on a computer, especially if you’ve got tight schedules and you can write stuff really quick. I think you tend to have to be a more restrained, quite well-managed person, and I’m not like that at all.”. For him, limiting himself to machines works with his personality. In addition to limiting himself to machines currently, he pulls so much out of a few sounds. I really admire this stripped-down approach. I know as a producer how easy it is to stuff more and more into a song, instead of pulling the maximum amount of energy out of a few sounds. 

 

In addition to limiting himself on the production end, he limits his release output. StompMag talked with him last year, and when discussing the approach of constantly putting out new music he says, “Ya just slow the fuck down basically. I think theres a real sense of people wanting everything now. And I know people appreciate the music, but ya gotta appreciate that the producer maybe wants to take it somewhere or take his time. I think thats what I’m trying to do, I don’t want to put everything out cos if i do it’ll just end up being really messy, there would be no fluidity to the releases. I think thats what im trying to do, keep a nice flow going rather than just have craziness!”.

 

Where Blawan does not restrict himself is the energy of his productions. His first release back in 2010 for Hessle Audio, Fram / Iddy is ridiculous. He commands attention on both tracks; “Fram” takes bits of garage, jungle and techno and melts them down to a hypnotic compound, and the rhythms on “Iddy” are so tight and distinct, I’m left in awe with every listen. His latest release for Hinge Finger, His He She & She is currently only available on vinyl, and seems to be out of stock everywhere. It opens with “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage”, a sinister techno track that’s painfully superb. Earmilk gave a fitting description of this release saying, “If I heard one of the (several) screams throughout this track – and the whole EP itself in fact – in a club and didn’t know where it came from, I would be fairly certain the club was located above some sort of underground torture dungeon. That’s Blawan for you on this EP. It really seems he wants to freak you out. Even considering the photographs on the cover, smiling children, couples and friends,  when put into context of the music makes a dark EP seem even more sinister, in a “missing persons” sort of way.”.

 

If you’re interested Blawan’s collaborations, check out his work with Pariah as Karenn. I’m diggin’ their Sheworks001 release, vinyl only. Karenn did a live set for Boiler Room last month, all hardware, which can be viewed here. There’s also the Cursory EP, released by Blawan and The Analogue Cops via Vae Victis Records in December of last year. Get hyped. 

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– Jimi Jaxon 

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