- Five artists. Ten sides of tape. Five and a half hours of music. Where do you start with a release like this? Diagonal Rave Tapes is a comprehensive document of a night's raving in Room Two of Corsica Studios back in May. Label boss Powell is on the bill, as is his recent collaborator Russell Haswell. They're joined by Vereker, Evol and Joe Andrews of Raime.
Haswell opens with a hybrid live/DJ set. It's a typically aggressive performance, showcasing solo work and forthcoming material from Consumer Electronics, his trio with Philip Best and Sarah Froelich. One particular vocal sample saws its way through the latter half of the set, distilling Best's trademark venom down to a split-second of terrifying potency. The recording comes entirely from room mics and, while there are moments you'd love to hear with a bit more definition, the sound bouncing off the walls and the audience chatter does give the whole thing a very strange, slightly removed atmosphere. It feels raw, and you can't forget you're listening to a one-off performance.
Andrews follows Haswell with an hour of garage, grime and hardcore. It's fun but not quite coherent, and things don't really begin to click again until the second half of Powell's set, when he starts pulling acid and EBM out of the bag. By now it's heading for 3 AM and the crowd are making themselves heard—the whole place sounds full of energy. Powell's mixing is smoother on the second side, building momentum much more effectively than the playful train-wrecking of the opening half-hour.
Vereker latches onto this momentum and takes it to the logical conclusion: flat-out pounding techno. Beginning with "Flesh And Blood," the A-side from his Berceuse Heroique EP, it's full throttle from the beginning—dark, brutal and bloody effective. The madness peaks about halfway through the second side, then disintegrates into noise before some lighter, Italo-flecked tunes finish things off.
Evol pushes the tempo again, jumping to 150 BPM and rising from there. It's a frantic set for the heads still standing, with a proper, classic rave feel. The end of the tape comes before the energy drops. It's a set that sums up the Diagonal appeal: fun but also dark, complex and surprising, building on the sounds of the past—hardcore, EBM, Bunker-friendly techno—but not quite defined by them.
As a collection, Diagonal Rave Tapes is a nice thing to have, but it's expensive and, what's more, it's sold out. A whole night of raving isn't the easiest thing to listen to at home, or at least not in one sitting. That said, fewer people have this tape than were at the night, and they paid more for it—in other words, the recording is literally valued higher than the experience itself, which is slightly discomfiting. It's a fun release, but whether a limited edition collectors' item is the right way to honour a night of raw and unpretentious dance music, well, you'll have to be the judge of that.
A Russell Haswell - Live Room Salvage: Side A
B Russell Haswell - Live Room Salvage: Side B
C Raime - Untitled
D Raime - Untitled
E Powell - Untitled
F Powell - Untitled
G Vereker - Untitled
H Vereker - Untitled
I EVOL - Untitled
J EVOL - Untitled