Powell Vs Steve Albini!!!!

The promotion for Powell's new XL single has taken a rather unexpected avenue with a little help from Steve Albini

While raving our shoes thin to Powell’s CTM Festival set at Berghain earlier this year, tQ’s Sophie and Luke were especially thrilled by a track which had a mad vocal shout that we thought was about fisting. However, it transpires that it was actually a sample of Steve Albini introducing a track from a Big Black gig. This has now appeared on Powell’s new single, ‘Insomniac’, for XL Recordings. Seeking clearance for the vocal sample, Powell emailed Albini, saying how much the music of Big Black had meant to him and explaining what he did. Mr Albini subsequently replied that though it seemed that "you’ve got a cool thing set up for yourself" he was hardly partial to the sort of fruity EBM that Powell makes. "I am absolutely the wrong audience for this kind of music. I’ve always detested mechanized dance music, its stupid simplicity, the clubs where it was played, the people who went to those clubs, the drugs they took, the shit they liked to talk about, the clothes they wore, the battles they fought amongst each other… basically all of it, 100 percent hated every scrap."

Oh dear. Albini continued: "The electronic music I liked was radical and different, shit like the White Noise, Xenakis, Suicide, Kraftwerk, and the earliest stuff form Cabaret Voltaire, SPK and DAF. When that scene and those people got co-opted by dance/club music I felt like we’d lost a war. I detest club culture as deeply as I detest anything on earth. So I am against what you’re into, and an enemy of where you come from".

Despite this, Albini was quite happy to let Powell use the vocal sample: "I have no problem with what you’re doing," he wrote. "I haven’t bothered listening to the links, mainly because I’m in a hotel with crappy internet at the moment but also because it probably wouldn’t be to my taste and that wouldn’t help either of us. In other words, you’re welcome to do whatever you like with whatever of mine you’ve gotten your hands on. Don’t care. Enjoy yourself."

Ever the wag, Powell replied to Albini’s email saying that the vocal sample had been cleared with Touch & Go, and asked if he could use their email exchange to illustrate the track’s video. Again, Albini is ambivalent about this possibility – "Still don’t care". And so we have the video for ‘Insomniac’, which is set to follow soon, and the above billboard which you can go and check out for yourself right now along London’s Commercial Street. As ways to promote your new record go, this is certainly up there.

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