This year many producers who operate firmly within the bass continuum have joined in a wholesale appropriation of vintage house music. But while this new release from Blawan is obviously acid influenced, it is paradoxically also one of the more original and compelling releases of the year. Having only released a handful of tracks on R&S and Hessle Audio, Blawan’s reputation has outgrown his modest discography because of the brutal functionality of his sound. His is a playfully aggressive take on the Hessle/Swamp 81 end of bass music that, as anybody who has played his tracks out will testify, fulfill their purpose with complete aplomb.
“What You Do With What You Have” begins with a wildly oscillating vintage acid synth, as a lone voice (recently attributed to Kenny Dixon Jr.) intones that “It ain’t what you got, it’s what you do with what you have, and it ain’t what you do, it’s how you do it.” And here lies the crux: the elements may be familiar — Chicago stabs, primal bass rumble, woodblocks and chopped and screwed vocals, but over the course of five minutes Blawan wrestles them into an arena completely his own. This is a menacing, funky and warped vision of warehouse music that, although stitched together using familiar samples, is rather futurist in outlook. On the flip, “Vibe Decorium” is a still more driving variant on this theme. A white noise drone, hollow woodblocks, cranked drum samples and jitterbug hat pattern drop into a jacking, kinky, bass workout that will satisfy even the most debased floors. This track will test big systems and demands to be played either peak time or (very) after hours. Blawan has thrown down the gauntlet in fine style here, and while neither track is exactly subtle, he makes his point with a devastating purity of intent and finesse of execution.