Absolutely flattening dub from Young Echo's Ossia. Well I say dub, Devil's Dance also brings in elements of techno, industrial and EBM which all adds up to something positively evil. Throw in some violin, sax and vocals and well, you've something not like much else. I reckon The Bug's Kevin Martin will like this a lot. On Blackest Ever Black.
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Back in the summer of 2018, Ossia and Blackest Ever Black served up a 10” which it turns out would be a taster for the producer’s debut full length. If you’re kicking yourself for missing out, then there’s no need to feed the sharks over on Discogs as both tunes are on here. The screen-printed sleeve edition is pretty sweet though, eh!
For the uninitiated, Daniel Davies has been releasing tunes since 2015 under his Ossia handle on labels like Blackest Ever Black, Berceuse Heroique, NoCorner, Empty Head Rich Heart etc. and is a fine DJ and selector as evidenced on mixtapes on Tape Echo and Lazy Tapes. He’s also a member of Bristol’s mighty Young Echo crew and a vital component in the electronic music community, releasing and distributing records from the constantly evolving axis of UK bass rooted music and beyond.
There’s a myriad of influences at work on the intricately crafted ‘Devil’s Dance’ and a much broader sound palette than we’ve heard previously. At the albums very core is the essence of dub and that sense of space created by effects; delay, reverb, echo etc. but he also utilizes fragments of dark ambient, jazz, industrial, grime, drone etc. within that space he creates, resulting in a sound that refuses to be filed under any of its influences. It’s a totally unconventional approach to dub that echoes UK post-punk strains that sought new forms and mutations - the same lineage and adventurous spirit of experimentation as Adrian Sherwood, Mark Stewart, On-U Sound, Cabaret Voltaire through to Ekoplekz.
Opener ‘Concrete’ submerges us into some dank, creepy realm painted with eerie strings and meticulous sound design. It’s akin to wandering around, lost in some vast network of dripping caves where we catch fleeting glimpses of phantoms before they vanish. It’s a haunting mood setter that makes way for the paranoid skeletal pulse of ‘Radiation’. The Saxophone something like if Tommy McCook had soundtracked David Cronenberg's film adaptation of William Burroughs Naked Lunch instead of Ornette Coleman -- with Wolf Eyes creating a gently nightmarish, hallucinatory, whacked out backdrop with an arsenal of f/x pedals. Pure dread comes on the title cut, with menacing, droning subs and rattling snares creating a paranoia-inducing atmosphere inhabited by ghoulish spectres trying to escape from the echo chamber. Meanwhile, there’s a little of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works Vol. II’ and Kevin Drumm’s ‘Imperial Distortion’ briefly running through the mysterious droning of ‘Slow Dance’. ‘Dub Hell’ stomps and fizzles with bass bubbling like molten lava while duppies skank leaving swirling trails as they evaporate in the intense heat. ‘Hell Version’ utilizes the previous tracks template, gradually building into a satisfying thump then appears to deconstruct itself with elements falling off of it, leaving just the bare endoskeleton before it disintegrates into nothing. ‘Inertia’ has a vivid supernatural quality - as does the whole album for that matter. It feels like we’ve tapped into something at a seance or made contact with entities in the afterlife at various points in the album where voices feel like transmissions from the other side, but this track, in particular, has a very ghostly quality. Finally, we get the epic twenty-three-minute ‘Vertigo’ which is as brilliantly head spinning and balance disrupting as the title suggests. Just don’t look down.
I’ve played this album a fair few times now and still each time I’m noticing little details and nuances I’d not clocked previously. You can tell a lot of time and work has gone into creating this debut album, and it’s totally been well worth the wait.
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