Friday, February 1, 2019

Regis US Tour Jan 25 - Feb 2 | "Knights of Wrongness: The Strange World of Regis & Downwards" | The Quietus


In a few short years, the Blackest Ever Black label became one of the premier imprints releasing all things darkly electronic, issuing a kind of brand of cinematic tech apocrypha for the cyber-occult. Their association and friendship with Mark Fisher, aka K-Punk, and his contribution to all things hauntological and otherwise at the beginning of the 21st century are a cultural touchstone for the label. His writing, and life's work as covered by The New Yorker in their, “Mark Fisher’s K-Punk and the Futures That Have Never Arrived”, have clearly informed Blackest Ever Black's aesthetic and overall programming philosophy. Examples of which can be heard in the outstanding  "Quarter Turns Over A Living Line" by Raime, as well as in recent entries of Vatican Shadow's refashioning of the techno engine. Further plumbing of the depths of the label's sound is represented by the compilation "After The Affair", which expressly focuses on their darkly-inclined fusion of technology and a rough-hewn electric and hardware based ethos. It is elementary then, that Blackest Ever Black would also host an anthology by Downwards label maven Karl O'Connor. Beginning as far back as the late 1990s, the label released hard and cutting edge techno by Surgeon, Female, Jeff Mills, and O'Connor's own Regis project. Discussing the origins of his making of his brutalist, austere brand of techno with The Quietus, O'Connor states; "Dance music is a great vehicle for sound pressure. It really did break the DNA of rock music, and that physicality is so important to me. That’s why I like Boyd Rice's NON and stuff like that, because I want to be assaulted. Does that say a lot about me? Probably".

Reflecting on these times in the pages of The Wire, Surgeon's Anthony Child spoke on their beginnings in the early Birmingham scene; "Myself and Karl O’Connor, who does Regis, we’ve always felt ou musical route into techno was almost an accidental one really, we didn’t come from what I’d say was the typical background of most people who got into techno". As an introduction to the artist, The Quietus offers both a "Knights of Wrongness: The Strange World of Regis & Downwards" feature, as well as "In a Birmingham Tongue: An Interview with Regis", and a curated selection of recordings which are bound to, "Stir My Teenage Soul: Karl ‘Regis’ O’Connor’s Favourite LPs". It was through their own unusual, industrial-centric focus on the physical power of sound that O'Connor and Child came to make their tough-as-nails, minimalist, ascetic-brutalist vein of electronic music. It is in this spirit, that the tracks on the Regis anthology "Manbait" for the Blackest Ever Black label would frame original compositions by O'Connor alongside his remixes and reworkings of experimental rhythmic noise and techno by Dalhous, Tropic of Cancer, Vatican Shadow, and Raime, among others. Nearly half a decade has elapsed since that release of the anthology, and the first of his US tours brought to Seattle's Kremwerk in a major programming coup by the collective of artists under the False Prophet banner. This month we will have yet another opportunity to experience Regis' electronic brutalism in the fitting bunker-like setting of Kremwerk, thanks to the programming of the DEPTH techno monthly.