Oberman Knocks – Beatcroff Slabs
The growth of user-friendly technology may have had some negative effects in terms of electronica’s sonic heterogeneity. Imaginative producers, however, will always find a way to sound distinctive: for Oberman Knocks, aka Nigel Truswell, the answer lies in deliberately limiting his palette of synthesised sounds and relying heavily on field recordings, including vocal samples. These elements are entwined, with endless subtle variations, within labyrinthine combinations of stuttering beats and ambient synth washes.
Truswell’s unrelenting adherence to this approach over sixteen tracks makes Beatcroff Slabs a forbidding listen. Its combination of metallic, Autechre-esque rhythms and snatched, contorted vocal samples gives the record a claustrophobic, nightmarish edge, with the same sense of shadowy, vague distress that lurks in the depths of Aphex Twin’s early ambient work. What the record lacks in diversity or narrative development, then, it compensates for in the clarity of its vision, testifying to the imaginative potency of Truswell's narrow-focus approach.