Karl O'Connor


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Synonymous with U.K. techno, the city of Birmingham is home to some of the most provoking artists in the world, including Surgeon and Regis. This tight-knit group has made their mark, producing heavy, loop-based tracks that virtually removed any of the bassline funk commonly found in Detroit-Berlin records of the same velocity. What's left is little more than cold and synthetic percussion arrangements that sound forbiddingly mechanical until heard on a decent sound system, at which point the metallic drive becomes perversely appealing in its inhumanity. This album, released on Regis' Downward label under his given name, Karl O'Connor, is actually a compilation of two 12" records, previously released with his Downward partner, Peter Sutton, and newcomer Ian Richardson. Surprisingly, the kickoff tune, "Death Head Said," prominently features a riff-like bassline (the antithesis of the Birmingham sound). That break from convention is remedied by the ultra-minimal clicks of "Baptism" and the stripped-down "Death Said Head (Version)." Of the three unreleased tracks found here, "Staff Car 1" and "Staff Car 2" are both severely overdriven, allowing the fuzzy drum tones to fill in the gaps left by the other missing elements, while "Untitled" is a beatless ambient piece taken right out of a sci-fi horror film. Pure tension.