Intriguing collaboration between Turner Prize-winning photographer/music-maker Wolfgang Tillmans and discordant-club-botherer Powell. Released under the name of Powell Tillmans, ‘Spoken By The Other’ is their first release together - a 12” coming out via XL, who put out Powell’s debut LP ‘Sport’ back in 2016. Tillman’s voice and Powell’s mid-range, synthetic gruff forms a complete synthesis across these six tracks. The release is limited to a one-off, 1500 copy run.
Limited Vinyl 12" £15.49 XL965T
6-track EP on XL Recordings. Limited one-off pressing of 1500 worldwide.
- Shipping cost: £3.35 ?
- Indies only
- Limited edition
Wolfgang Tillmans is primarily a photographer, and quite a good one at that. His greatest asset his ability in seeing the abstract in the everyday, the minimal in the maximal. Through his lens flotsam and jetsam draw you in as much as any work but his painterly peers. For Spoken By The Other he has collaborated with XL Recording sound designer and producer Powell.
Tillmans’ contribution is that of his relatively deadpan vocals, flitting between his native German and English. This is not the first time Tillmans has strayed from the visual, which shows in the deftness with which he manipulates and distorts his own voice. Powell’s part is considerably more predictable. Much as his previous work for XL, he tends to favour the sounds of trance and EBM, but here they’re slightly more formless, abstract in a way that seems like he’s trying to match Tillman’s photos.
Unfortunately when the two meet the collaboration feels as clumsy as the name they’re using for the project, Powell Tillmans. ‘Tone Me’ seems to be more or less 100% Powell until towards the end Tillmans appears as if not wanting to be forgotten. ‘Rebuilding the Future’ has Tillmans repeating ‘rebuilding the future, rebuilding the now’ over a particularly wet sounding Powell production like a promotional video for a corporation in a dystopian future.
The best moment on the EP is the opener ‘Feel the Night’. Powell goes in guns blazing with a kind of trance drone before Tillmans again joins in with the song title. It’s fun and elating, but I can’t help but think N-Trance’s Kelly Llorenna would’ve done a better job.
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