Blawan’s 2012 EP for Joy Orbison and Will Bankhead’s Hinge Finger imprint, His He She & She, stands out as one of the most mind-melting club records in recent memory. “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?” asked a menacing vocal sample on the opening track that pushed abrasive percussion, jagged rhythms and disturbing wails tightly together to form a raucous techno roller. The club-primed cacophony was a hit, pumping dancers with the frenzied energy of a Norse berserker when belting out of systems, and eventually riding high on multiple End of Year lists as the calendar drew to a close.
But despite the success of the tumultuous production approach employed by Blawan on “Why They Hide …”, the record marked the start of a shift away from this propulsive formula. After its release Jamie Roberts put his Blawan moniker on the back burner for three years and focused on the improvised, modular-driven collaborative projects Karenn and Trade he worked on with Pariah and Surgeon respectively. The influence of this style-shift fed into his later solo material, with the foundation of his TERNESC label in 2015 unveiling a more considered and polished style of techno than we were used to hearing from Blawan efforts.
Now Roberts is back releasing on a Will Bankhead-run label, underlining his evolution as a producer since that destructive 12” four years ago with the inauguration of a new alias Bored Young Adults for The Trilogy Tapes. The Yorkshire-born artist still maintains his knack for brilliant track names on the debut BYA outing Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach, but the sounds attached are less recognisable. “But We Need This Bench” is a fine example of this; a slow and spacey production where loping percussion bumps along the surface while phased synths and a mutating sequencer line progress slackly above. The introduction of a layer of trickling bells elevates the track to unfamiliar emotional heights. Icy chimes interlock like helixes of a DNA strand forming the genetic make-up of a stirring melody.
“Check Up From The Neck Up” builds from a sparse opening to a dense combination of percussive flourishes. It’s infectious in a more foot-tapping than fist-pumping sense. At the 100-second mark a monstrous buzzing rises from the depths like a biblical swarm of locusts, ramping up the intensity considerably, engulfing the track in an angry haze and distorting all the elements. The acute focus Roberts applies to the production is highlighted as hi-hats frazzle and kicks rattle, seemingly buckling under the weight of the asphyxiating drone.
Title-track “Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach” is underpinned throughout by a sound akin to a wooden chair scraping against a floor, or the hinges of the rusty munitions box Aphex Twin sampled for “Alberto Balsam”. The sluggish-yet-ceaseless sound gives the impression of slowly being swallowed by quicksand as a zigzagging bassline scythes through and fights to escape. This combination of lethargy and restrained intensity makes for a subtly powerful dancefloor cut. Bored Young Adults showcases a side to Roberts we’ve not heard before, but one we are definitely keen to hear again.
A1. Shy Dancers On Bungalowdorf Beach
B1. Check Up From The Neck Up
B2. But We Need This Bench