Lee Holman, 2nd Kawl


Photo by Appuru Pai

[Kawl]


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It’s rather uncommon for a popular, well respected producer not to have a legion of imitators following their every move. RenĂ© Pawlowitz, whether as Shed, Wax, Equalized or STP, is one of few in recent memory to manage this feat, in part because most of his various styles are damned difficult to replicate. Although I would stop short of calling Lee Holman an imitator, his latest effort comes tantalizingly close to the rarefied territory inhabited by Pawlowitz. The Wexford, Ireland-based producer is a veteran of labels such as Ferox Records, Mowar, and Prosthetic Pressings, but this breakthrough comes on his own, recently launched imprint, Kawl. 2nd Kawl follows the format of its predecessor with two numbered originals and two remixes, this time from Elliot Dodge (on whose Snapshot Records Holman released in 2010) and UK techno stalwart, Ferox labelhead Russ Gabriel.

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Listening through Holman’s back catalog, it’s apparent he shares with Pawlowitz an affinity for techno’s rambunctious early 90’s period. That being said, “Kawl 2.1” has more in common with his contemporary’s tracks as Shed or Wax. The scratchy textures and full-bodied timbres of its percussion, beating at adrenaline-spiked tempos, are strikingly familiar; as are the bleeping and zig-zagging synths that harmonize with high rise pads. The arrangements are where things diverge, as Holman’s constant builds feel like brute force next to the surgical strikes plotted by Pawlowitz. “Kawl 2.2” splits the difference between the Deuce sound and singularly focused Wax cuts, its synth stabs and relentless eight note bass line mowing down all who stand in the way. Elliot Dodge turns “Kawl 2.1” inside out, providing more variations in the drum programming than the darker, largely static melodies. Russ Gabriel highlights how clean “Kawl 2.2” sounded by injecting heady doses of murky atmosphere. 2nd Kawl may not reach the lofty heights frequented by its inspiration, yet it deserves recognition for aiming that high and providing techno fans with four reliable selections regardless.

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