Around the time of his last album, Wet Will Always Dry, Jamie Roberts told Electronic Beats, referring to his well-documented switch from bass music to techno: "Producing techno was quite liberating for me. I could focus on sound design and I didn’t have to worry about clever rhythms anymore." I think this is pretty much the basis of why Roberts' music as Blawan and as one half of Karenn has been so consistently fantastic. Here's an artist who's channelled the fiercely exploratory spirit of post-dubstep UK club music into a traditional techno frame. This manifests most obviously in Roberts' sound design—achieved through painstaking research on his modular system—that is simply unlike anyone else's. Many Many Pings makes that point yet again.
It sounds like Roberts has discovered a new technique or has bought a key new module since the album last year. On "Many Many Pings" and "Gadget" it's as though he's used his voice to modulate or shape a patch, resulting in a distinctive blurring of man and machine. Speculation aside, though, both cuts are outrageously banging—very much Blawan but, once again, a subtly fresh angle. Ditto "Hapexil Rotator" and "Lox," the former because of its tightly coiled mix of good and evil, the latter due to its smart use of white noise and discordant synths. Many Many Pings covers a pleasing amount of ground, but everything is united by the crispy tonality and sonic hostility that Roberts has always been excited by. As we near ten years since he emerged on the scene, it's clearer more than ever that most other techno artists simply aren't trying as hard as he is to stand out.
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