Audio Mixer: Tobin Jones.
Recording information: The Powell Studio, London (2014-2016).
Sport is the debut full-length from Oscar Powell, a London-based producer and DJ who earned a considerable amount of acclaim for his early EPs, which were primarily released on Diagonal, the label he co-founded with Jaime Williams in 2011. Powell creates gritty, disjointed experimental techno that has far more in common with '80s post-punk and industrial than any prevailing dance music trends of the 2010s. He delights in bringing non-club music to the club, and his tracks feature grubby drums and guitars as well as buzzing, broken-sounding synths. He is completely uninterested in creating traditional club tracks with heavy, swinging basslines, and none of his tracks ever follow a typical structure with builds and drops. The album's most accessible moments are "Frankie" and "Jonny" (undoubtedly named in tribute to "Frankie Teardrop" and "Johnny" off Suicide's untouchable 1977 debut), both of which are credited as featuring vocalists sharing names with the tracks, but both are actually sung by HTRK's Jonnine Standish, who could easily be mistaken for Peaches. The liner notes of Sport credit samples of bands such as the Fall, Pere Ubu, and Fugazi. However, what's missing from the album is "Insomniac," Powell's infamous 2015 single that sampled a bit of stage banter from Steve Albini taken from a Big Black gig. Powell emailed Albini asking to clear the sample, to which Albini replied that he loathed dance music culture, and that he had no interest in listening to Powell's music. The correspondence was publicized (XL printed Albini's email on a billboard in London) and later incorporated into the track's video, and many music fans assumed there was some sort of beef between the two artists. What a lot of people didn't pick up on is the fact that Powell largely agrees with Albini -- even though Powell produces electronic dance music, his own work resists the predictability or trendiness of most club music. He produces whatever he wants, whether or not it makes sense to anyone else, and he has a grand old time doing it. This spirit is evident throughout Sport, a confounding, often thrilling album of pieced-together samples and shorted-out electronics that nevertheless has a primitive groove coursing through its veins. ~ Paul Simpson