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Russell Haswell
Respondent Eden Tizard , February 12th, 2018 07:33

Haswell's latest mini-LP on Diagonal is properly idiosyncratic noise techno

Within fundamentalist noise circles, there’s a certain perception that the function of a beat is to organise and ultimately simplify raw sound. In Haswell's case, his crumbling structures seem to do the opposite. Track titles such as ‘Worsening Daily’ and ‘Let Suffering Become You’ give clues to the eroding content here; these beats are wholly dilapidated, their restless shifting suggest rhythm as a form of liberation not confinement.

Respondent’s centrepiece is the nine-minute plus ‘Special Long Version (Demo)’, which features the extraordinary vocal work of Sue Tompkins - a visual artist and singer who previously fronted Glasgow art-punks Life Without Buildings. Her discordant vocals are barely welded into the fabric of the track; it’s almost as if they were recorded entirely separately and placed here by sheer chance, and the song works precisely because of that spontaneity.

‘Let Suffering Become You’ wrongfoots you from the off with a divergent sample from Jonathan Guinness, uber Tory and son of Diana Mitford, who bemoans that: “An awful lot of people who enjoy punk would really like to be back in those days when they could actually see physical people hacking each other to death.” This is actually the closest Haswell comes to making an out and out techno banger; albeit one on the brutalist, Regis end of the spectrum.

This new, more dance-inflected approach took a while to take shape. In a 2016 interview with Resident Advisor, Haswell spoke of the numerous times his friends and collaborators Aphex Twin and Autechre urged him to "just stick a fucking beat on it, Russ." In his own stubborn way he’s succumbed, entirely on his own terms.