Of all the former Sandwell District members, Karl O’Connor has been the most prolific since the label closed last year. Having put out a triple CD of his old work and most recently, the So Click Heels compilation, he now delves back into his past as Regis for this truncated collection of tracks that were an integral part of his live set.
The title track is available here in two versions; the original is a pulsing electronic groove, its lithe rhythms coming across like a less intense take on Penetration. Then there’s the alternative version, a heavy, rolling affair that oozes menace, but when placed beside the gritty beats and meaty bassline of “Assume Nothing”, makes perfect sense.
“VD Hospital” adopts a similar approach to “Assume”, but the chain metal percussion and whiff of dank basements make it sound even rawer and rougher. Death Head Said also provides an insight into the impact that O’Connor’s music had on UK techno generally at this time. “Unnatural” deploys filters and a surging, insistent rhythm and ends up sounding like a prototype for the Cosmic/Lost take on techno. However, the collection’s true value is the way it shines a light on O’Connor’s inventive productions. “Absolute” fuses grubby beats with shrill riffs and screeching percussion, and “Baptism” goes even further down the sonic wormhole. Scratchy hats gnaw away at O’Connor’s grimy rhythm and slightly off beats, but the locked-on arrangement also features an insistent vocal snippet and as it progresses, dreamy textures that quickly revert to the track’s overpowering, pummelling repetition. The passing of life rarely sounded so powerful.
A1 Death Head Said
B1 Baptism (Extended Version)
C1 Death Head Said (Extended Version)
C2 Assume Nothing
D1 VD Hospital