Blawan | Wet Will Always Dry

 
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Family Average: 4.6/7

Welcome back all you family readers. Kevin has given us a real treat this go-around, with a triumph of the genre of microhouse. Will the simple beats delight the family, or drive them to the brink of insanity? Also on today's review is special guest Miles, who has brought the longest reviews we have ever had to the table!

Listen along on Spotify as you check out what we had to say:

 
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On paper, all tech house songs should sound somewhat similar; so everybody, stop talking about it. This similarity is due to their somewhat “essential” framework that has been used for decades. Sure, some people see this formula as a detriment, but I honestly believe they just don't want to give the genre a goddamn chance. If you can listen to the same fucking audio-crack-dealer beat from your favorite rapper, you cannot use the “they all sound the same!” argument (I now realize that using a rapper to help my argument might have just hurt my argument so maybe [INSERT CLASSIC ROCK BAND HERE] works better).

Back to the formula point I was going to make: Even while working within the framework, Blawan created such a strong sonic identity; the album feels like a constant euphoric BANGER that happens towards the end of a Dekmantel set. While it is unclear how he created some of these pieces, a lot of modular synths have been combined with various folly samples. The result is remarkable -- the modular portion helps the track flow; all of the analog elements have a combined intensity that just make me feel good. The samples provide an additional layer that help keep every track fresh and unique. While there will always be artists within every genre that could credit their success to piggybacking off the breakthrough of another I can assure you Blawan is pure.

6/7 Every track is a banger

 
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The best thing I can say about this record is that at least it isn’t psychedelic vampire or cosmic pirate house. Nope, this is just good old “timeless” minimalist techno. The kids are calling this multy techno now, but I haven’t a clue what that means. Urban Dictionary defines it as “rhyming multiple words”, but that isn’t at all helpful. As such it’s not really my thing, but most music isn’t these days. Not necessarily because I’m old, although I am, but more because I suffer from a sort of musical anhedonia. This is probably due to repetitive concussions from bike wrecks. I’m not sure if this makes me more or less likely to review this in an unbiased way, but here goes. Because of the minimalist nature of the music I will try to keep my take on each song as pure and elemental as possible.

Klade: Is this a recording of a drone racing video game?

Careless: In the comments section for this on YouTube, Bogomil Francoff warns, “Blawan is never joking.” I would have to agree that this is pretty humorless and dour stuff. Interesting side note, the Dour Festival recently took place in the town of Dour in Belgium, which ironically isn’t in the slightest involved in the etymology of the word dour and Blawan didn’t play at. Try as they might, it just doesn’t look like much fun, belying what I just wrote. Link to Dour Festival

Tasser: For a recording of shoes in the dryer this is pretty rhythmic.

Vented: To me, it sounds like digital camouflage looks.

North: Sounds like Blawan sampled that time I smoked DMT years ago and slowed it way down. Kristi the terminator 2 of YouTube comments fame would like to “thank the future for bringing Blawan to the present.” Given the timeline, it’s probably me she should be thanking. You’re welcome.

Stell: Of the 8, this is my favorite. It has some dynamism, space, and is by far the most machine funk of the bunch. I’d dance to it.

Kalosi: Probably sounds ace on ketamine at Berghain on a Tuesday at 11am, when you should really be at work, but you’ve been on the sesh for 3 or 4 days. Jukeboski excitedly comments on YouTube, “We ARE the conveyor belt!“ so he seems to agree.

Nims: I can imagine Jeff Mills hammering this for about 2 minutes while 3 other records are playing. I don’t know how he does it. He is truly gifted in that respect.
 

I think I need to change my shoes and put on a sweater now.

3/7

 
 
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I remember a Chris Rock bit where he talks about rap music. Basically he said "if you don't like it, it was not meant for you". I feel that way about this album. I appreciate all the work involved in making music like this. I've seen Kevin spend hours up in his room making music like this and often I do like it. This album just didn't ever hook me in. I kept waiting for that one song that would make me say, "Ok, i get this now". But it just didn't happen for me. Too much repetition and songs without that big drop I like to hear. Overall, a nice effort for the genre

4/7

 
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Whup Whup Swoosh! I can not tell you how much I appreciated this album keeping me company during a long night of website designing. There is a trend I often notice in the music that Kevin recommends to me from this Genre, and I am going to try and put it to words so bear with me. It sounds like a lot of the instruments on the album (or sounds, I guess) have been picked up by recording unconventional found objects. As an overall fan of strange noises, I am delighted to see them all taking turns popping in and out to create music. Arranged properly and you got yourself a heck of a tune. To cite a specific example let's look at the track "Tasser", where it would seem there is the sound of a sputtering engine recorded through a tin can.

The tracks on the whole lean towards the longer side, but I had no notion of this until I went to close the album after it had finished; no song seemed to overstay its welcome. I would say the whole album carried on with a pretty dark kind of pulsating, hurried pace. Only moment of rest I received was from the lovely little weirdo that is "Stell", a word of which I do not know the meaning. This track for sure stood out as my favorite. I loved the weird distorted vocals, and the constant repetition of the springy "wahhhhh" sounding synthesizer.

Thanks a whole lot, Blawan. May you continue to make music that keeps me hyper alert,  focused, and a little afraid during late night work sessions.

6/7

 
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I'm usually turned off by "serious techno", and tend to  feel like the people behind it/listening to it are operating on a higher plane than us plebs. So…I don't feel cool enough to offer my two cents on this album, but hey ho, here we go. For a modern techno album (Is that even the right term? Soz.), there is an ethereality that kept me engaged throughout.  The slow build up and accumulation of noise creates a visceral experience for each song. The sounds range from elastic and rubbery to organic and soft to metallic and grating. Airy vocals  floating through tracks like "Careless" offer up an eeriness and bit of humanity into a genre I often condemn for being straight up mechanical. I feel like this album is a magnum opus despite its short track list. No doubt this guy would create some killer sound art installations, as these tracks are completely immersive. Even if synth and techno aren't your thing, you've got to appreciate the skill  of weaving together these disparate sounds, and just enjoy it for what it is. Overall, this album entertained the heck out of me. It was COOL.

5/7

 
 
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Wow, I was just getting ready to bash this one as the “same old” “same old” Techno crap. Then I remembered that I vowed to review with an open mind. I have been told that I have an extreme bias towards traditional rock and roll. Been told that I never really listen to any other genre, I just pass it off as garbage. So in my attempt not to dismiss this as subpar techno junk, I will listen track by track (like Miles) and give you my (attempt at unbiased) thoughts: 

Careless: I liked it but I think I would really like it with a horn section.

Klade: This sounded like Robot Music. Not really a fan.

Kalosi: This sounded like crime drama music to me. In other words, it's good background music.

Vented: This reminded me of club music. I was just glad it wasn’t coming from my basement this time. That usually means one of the kids is having a party down there. 

Nims: Some more Robot Music. Sigh...

Stell: I was genuinely surprised to find that i liked this track. It most resembled music to my untrained ears.

North: More Robot Music

I give it a 4/7 and it would  have scored higher if it had horns!

 
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This is gonna unfortunately be a miss for me because this style of music just isn’t my thing. Not to sound dismissive but a lot of it to me was just a lot of noise. Sometimes that generic rave beat would go through, the kind you’d expect to hear in a blacklight neon euro rave or something, but it felt like that same beat was used in a lot of songs. I know repetition is par for the course with ambiance music, but it was too distracting and messy for me to just zone out to it. Often I’d get frustrated just trying to figure out what I was listening to. Sometimes elements would just grate on me, the way a leaky faucet or an unbalanced washing machine would.

"North" sounded like someone made a house remix of an Earthbound enemy encounter, and "Stell" for some reason made me think of this old low-poly Frogger game we had on CPU? Maybe because in video games they tend to go for music that works as background noise and can repeat. The one that frustrated me the most though was "Nims". It sounded like someone took two completely different songs and just overlapped them with no level adjustment. I kept thinking that maybe something else was playing in a new tab. While I do like to zone out to music, it’s gotta be the kind you can immerse yourself into. This one just made my brain angry at me. Again, I’m sure there’s people that like this kind, for me it was just too much.


3/7

 
 
Sean Maldjian