Blawan – Dismantled Into Juice
There was a collective sigh of relief from longtime fans of UK producer Blawan upon the release of his 2021 EP, Woke Up Right Handed. From the deliciously vaudevillian squabble of Under Belly to the gibberish scatter of Blika, the EP was a return to form of sorts after years of Blawan’s meddling with austere and methodical big room techno. Not that said techno was unserviceable. It was just far too clean for a producer who’d made his name taking bold and bizarre swings. Gone were the blood curdling samples, those maniacal and discomforting synths, the off-kilter playfulness that makes Blawan’s greatest hits so distinguishable. In its place – shiny and sanitised 4/4 boom booms. Blawan has always shone brightest when at his strangest, and with Woke Up Right Handed, he was ready to get weird again. What followed next was another unexpected pivot, with the producer joining forces with fellow techno agent Pariah to start the hardcore, post-punk outfit Persher, a move that suggested his comfortable return to the chaos of his boundary pushing instincts. Dismantled Into Juice reflects this recent trajectory, an EP that zeroes in on the most wonky parts of Blawan’s tech(no)? and marries them with the post-punk, caustic-core of Persher.
That post-punk sensibility is reflected on the EP’s apparent fixation on the death drive. As its title and its setae-like artwork suggests, Dismantled Into Juice is concerned with a macabre sort of entropy, not unlike heavy metal body horror. Think faces melting off into puddles of acid, flesh twisting into monstrous abjections, all explored with an innate humour like practical effects in an 80’s slasher film. Horror isn’t entirely new for Blawan. Think Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?. But on Dismantled Into Juice, horror gives him the freedom to let go of convention like never before. The result is music that’s hard to pin down as one thing or the other, simultaneously a decimation and dissertation of the Techno Rule Book that creeps into adjacent sounds and styles. Executed with an experimental edge, Dismantled Into Juice sees Blawan gleefully crafting some truly gonzo sounds.
Lead single Toast veers toward fidget house and subterranean dubstep, the whole thing wobbling with rubbery, bulbous synths and aquatic rumbles of bass that make the whole thing slither about as if doused in slime. Like Blawan’s best, it’s discomfortingly visceral. On the title track, a sickening bubbling, like a cauldron of goo, underscores what starts off as glitchy acerbic dub, before throwing out all sense of form and structure. Jarring and dissonant chords pierce through the muck, before Blawan brings everything together again into a noxious brew. Monstera Blue, who appears here and on the Nintendo post-club of You Can Build Me, binds everything with the hook, “I pick up my pieces,” as everything around her threatens to fall to pieces at any moment.
Both Panic and Body Ramen function on tension, at the opposite end of the spectrum to the undulations of Toast. Body Ramen begins as a tightly wound ball of static, unravelling ever so slightly into a crawling infestation of writhing textures and ominous, distorted post-punk strings. Panic, though equally high strung, is – ironically – the closest Blawan comes to restraint here. The buzzing, primordial dub beat that harkens to The Bug feels bridled compared to the rest of the EP’s Frankenstein’s monsters, all teetering on the edge of chaos. It’s Blawan’s proximity to that very edge that makes Dismantled Into Juice some of his most exciting and creatively liberated work. With these experiments, he’s pushed himself further into those parts of Blawan that have always felt dangerously irreverent, and by daring to venture to the precipice of these parts, he’s created his most brilliant and unsettling masterpiece to date.
Listen to the title track from Dismantled Into Juice, featuring Monstera Black, below.