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Blawan – Bohla review

The recent success of R&S can be measured by the sheer volume of magazines adorned with a wind swept picture of James Blake. If there’s any disappointing by-product of this revival, it’s that the critical acclaim for releases from the likes of Blake and Space Dimension Controller overshadowed perhaps the label’s best release from Untold.

In “Stereo Freeze” and “Mass Dreams Of The Future” the Hemlock boss delivered a punishing dancefloor update on the legendary label’s long established template of techno, and crucially refused any kind of simple genre classification. There’s no post whatever’s you can tack on the tracks, it was simply raw, unadulterated music geared for the floor.

Hailing from Barnsley, Blawan becomes the latest rising talent to appear on the iconic Belgian imprint, and he takes his cue from Jack Dunning, fully embracing the 303 sound that characterised the label in its pomp. Those that only know Blawan via his debut release for Hessle Audio might be surprised at the swerve in direction shown on the three tracks that make up Bohla, but as he disclosed in a recent interview with Dummy, the 130bpm range is where his head is at now and it’s a style he executes with a real swagger.

Lead track “Bohla” sets the tone, crafting a menacing rhythmic swing from a titular growl and smudged bass drums, with intermittent upwards swirls of 303 constantly building and dropping off. “Kaz” proves to be brilliantly schizophrenic in its approach, with intricate drum rhythms cascading around whilst acid lines are twisted in ten different directions across almost seven freakout-inducing minutes. What really impresses with Blawan is his innate talent for unique rhythms and it’s most apparent on the abrasive delight of “Lavender”, with rattling percussion covered in a thick viscous bassline truffle shuffle.

Tony Poland