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- Way Down by Robert Turman
10/10 Ant Staff review, 18 February 2014
After glancing over the press release for this record I spotted a sentence in there from Elvis Von Doom “Robert Turman is one of the most underrated figures to come out of industrial music’s earliest days.” I could not agree more. The man’s music stirs something in me that’s inexplicable. It traverses the entire emotional spectrum and is a pure example of the sheer powerful force that is recorded sound. ‘Way Down’ is really unlike any other work in his catalogue. Originally issued on cassette in 1987 on his Actual Tapes label and then first appeared on vinyl via Dais in 2010, it has now once again been reissued on wax courtesy of Burka For Everyone.
Working loosely within the cold/ minimal synth template of the era Turman wasn’t one to write off the possibilities of the guitar within the format and as a result ‘Way Down’ has one of the most distinctive sounds of all the records from that generation. The foundation/ backbone of the tracks is minimal synth, drum machine but the cold minimalism is augmented with vocal samples, tape loops and as mentioned some guitar. I usually don’t go for guitar in electronic music at all but Turman successfully blends the real and synthetic seamlessly. The opening title track is pure ecstacy, with longing synths and piano. ‘Lowtek’ like the preceding tune has no shortage of infectious melody alongside a pitched down vocal sample adding a darker edge. 'Mind the Gap' sounds like Jean Michelle Jarre being assaulted by Giorgio Moroder and Chris Carter while ‘Freedom From Fear’ sounds like The Normal covering Mike Ratledge’s ‘Riddles Of The Sphinx’ soundtrack. ‘Dead King Speak’ is the most “industrial” track of the bunch with squashed mechanical rhythms swamped in fog with sinister melodies creeping through the darkness. Closer ‘Clean living’ is pure rugged, deranged proto-techno.
The overall atmosphere of ‘Way Down’ is dark but never overly oppressive due to Turman’s brilliantly executed balance of melody and texture. A stone-cold classic.
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