- Powell's promotional antics have earned him a reputation as an unpredictable provocateur. Just as he straddles genres, drawing in elements of techno, EBM, post-punk and no wave, his persona seems driven by an impulse to do whatever other people are not doing. By plastering pissed-off emails from Steve Albini on billboards, putting his own email address on public display and running a promotional campaign based on crushing watermelons, he's created a series of surprising, cryptic and at times grating spectacles that have forced attention onto his music. Clever, since that's exactly the spirit of the music itself.
Powell's music is based on an impossible separation of body and brain, a desire to stretch the mind with endless synthesizer offshoots while commandeering the body with pummelling drums and tom-led beats. This separation defines Sport, his first full-length, released on XL Recordings. Tracks like "BEat 20_194r" and "Gone A Bit Bendy (NTS Chatroom Version)" place your head one place and your feet another—that is, whenever Powell lets the groove ferment for more than 20 seconds at a time. Elsewhere the album is painted in the colours you'd expect from a Powell record. Tracks like "Junk" and "Her Face" reinforce an elemental connection to the dance floor. Abrasive samples echo the driving influence of bands like Front 242 and Suicide, backed by stellar vocal appearances from Jonnine Standish of HTRK. Her voice nestles neatly into the record's stark synth bursts, representing a departure from Powell's early EPs.
Any forays into homage are offset by the album's pervading presentism. Most tracks have a near-total lack of reverb that suffocates sentimentality without starving the record of atmosphere. As a listening experience, it's like pushing on a bleeding gum: knotty and perversely satisfying. Sport is far more than an exercise in trolling or deft guerrilla marketing. This is what happens when Powell brings mind and body together in the context of the dance floor. The result is a staggering experience, even if it's all in your head.
02. Fuck You, Oscar
03. Frankie feat. Frankie
04. Big Keith ('Ok Ok' Mix)
07. Jonny feat. Jonny
08. Beat 20_194r
09. Gettin' Paid to Be Yourself (Al's 'Kick Ass' Mix)
10. Do You Rotate? feat. Dale Cornish
11. Her Face
12. Gone A Bit Bendy (NTS Chatroom Version)
14. Mad Love feat. Loke Rahbek