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LISTEN/INTERVIEW: Powell Remixes
Luke Turner , December 10th, 2014 13:40

Plus! Interview with Powell and Ancient Methods on this "proper body music"

Powell has given us a fair few excellent nights out this past year, adding some much-needed swing to the linear techno banging away in the basement of Tresor Berlin during Atonal Festival, and getting a knackered old hotel room sweating with his brilliant debut live set at Unsound. Now signed to XL, we're very much looking forward to hearing what deviance he comes up with in the home of Adele and beige Jungle. The Diagonal Records main-man rounds off 2014 with a brilliant EP of remixes, which we're streaming below. With reworkings from Ancient Methods and Cabaret Voltaire they nicely show off Powell's skill at straddling techno, noise and classic EBM, and we're particularly fond of the gristly Ancient Methods 'Körpersaure91' version. You can buy the remixes digitally here

We spoke to Powell and Michael Wollenhaupt AKA Ancient Methods to get the lowdown on this most satisfying of excursions down the bum dungeon:

Can you tell us when you first heard each other's music?

Ancient Methods: It was Karl [Regis O'Connor] who gave me the first Diagonal with his remix on it. The record, in particular the title track, instantly caught my attention. This was something different, proper body music. I thought 'the ongoing significance of steel and flesh' is exactly what it says. I thought here is somebody who must have absorbed the ongoing significance of DAF and Nitzer Ebb beats but managed it to transform it into remarkably individual tracks.

Powell: I'm pretty sure it was Jaime [Williams] who put me onto the music. He was always hard into techno, while I just dabbled really. I can't remember which Method it was, but it was a few years back and it hit me like a Butterbean right hook. I think it's sometimes difficult to deconstruct techno and talk about what it is that makes me dig something so much, because it's often just a feeling, but with Michael's stuff it was obvious: I loved the craft, the detail – the work that has so obviously gone into all the music he does. You can hear it in every edit, in the way the tracks evolve and develop. And I think I'm drawn to that kind of music because it's how I make my own.

We’ve hung out a lot recently and we often talk about this shared approach. And yeah, it took Michael a long, long time to do these remixes, which kind of confirms what I'm talking about: he put his back into it and clearly didn’t want to settle for OK. That was a real honour, to have someone like Michael taking it so seriously. Either that or his 'proper' job got a bit crazy - which I know it does.

What is it you admire about each other's work?

AM: First: It's distinguishable. I am horribly forgetful, I can't remember tracks or track titles that much. Sometimes I even have to deckshark records I own and play myself. It's different with Powell's music. Even without knowing the track in particular or for example if it would be a new tune I could always confidently say 'O yes, that's a Powell tune', but due to style not sameness.

Second: These are party tunes without being conventional. I don't know if it is intentional but its exactly everything, that I find distinguishable I appreciate the most, that is the unique organic roughness of the sound, the unexpected and smartly edited breaks, and the precisely set 'imperfections'. And although it is still repetitive music, which can also provide a hypnotic feeling, it's never loopy in the way that makes the majority of techno records boring to me.

Third: It's MDMA music.

P: Maybe the best thing about Ancient Methods is that, despite everything he's done, he's still one of the humblest, most sincere people I've met in music. My girlfriend asked him if he did music the other night, when they first met, and he said 'No, not really. I mean, occasionally I try things, but not really, no.'

Thing is, when he tries things, they always come off.

What did you want to do to Powell's track?

AM: In general, when it comes to remixing I like to do it in a traditional way. That means I don't want to deliver just a new track of mine and call it remix although it has no contextual relation to the original. Therefore I have to get into the mood of the original, to comprehend it on a emotional level - not necessarily in a way that I can adapt or imitate the style but that I get into the spirit. And if I can't get into the spirit of the original I feel it becomes just another AM track, which is somewhat disappointing for me. This said I wanted to keep the mood - at least the mood that I captured from the tracks - and I believe it was very easy for me to get an emotional access to it. The source material gave me a lot of different beginnings. I stuck with the two ideas that became the remixes since I thought these two might be the most diverse beginnings of all drafts I had. So, to get to the point of your question: The only aim was to keep the spirit/mood of the originals and to consider the third point of the previous question appropriately. I should also mention it finally became the "Club Music remixes" because I messed up the source material of the three single tracks ('So We Went Electric', 'No U Turn' and 'Maniac').

What reaction has the edit had on dancefloors?

AM: People throw rotten vegetables at the DJ booth.

P: Mental.

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