“Sounds like a soundtrack for some brutal tech horror film — so dark.
Makes our stuff sound like a posh garden party”.
— Sean Booth (Autechre)
Beatcroff Slabs follows Knocks’ first release on the aperture records label, the widely acclaimed 2009 debut album 13th Smallest, and is comprised of 16 tracks that take his sounds down yet darker, more twisted corridors and into ever expanding sonic spaces.
Beatcroff Slabs’ evolving sound has essentially been built around the same core elements as 13th Smallest — those of manipulated synthesised studio sounds, fused with field recordings of the everyday and Knocks’ travels. The vocals, both snatched in public and his own, are contorted into instrumentation, and conversely synthetic sounds mutated into those with a vocal resonance — human and beyond. The album is produced with the same rudimentary set-up and continues Knocks’ unabated and unique trajectory in sound.
With Beatcroff Slabs, Oberman Knocks (Nigel Truswell) has produced a visceral album which further explores his trademark themes — densely claustrophobic cinematic pieces, as with the opening track Ak-himp Rise, the use of arhythmic beats such as in Leckren Verso and his love for bottom heavy sonics, found in Konshun Four. The tempo of the album veers from the thundering Scanlon’s Heaping Gore Pull and tripped-up beats of Degonnt Type Runners, through to the metallically spatial and delicate Tek-fir Blades, along with one of the album’s
mellower moments Mighton Ogan Lode, where Knocks demonstrates that machine music can indeed be evocative and imbued with human emotion, as well as fully charged with mechanical vigour.
On hearing Beatcroff Slabs, label owner Andrea Parker suggested to Knocks that they should think about an accompanying release of remixes, and so between them they drew up a wish-list of artists which they’d like to ask. This list has resulted in contributions from Plaid (Warp), Quinoline Yellow (Skam), Kero (Detroit Underground), Michna
(Ghostly International), former Bitstream members as Uexkull and Adapta and international Irish artist Garrett Phelan. There will also be a video piece to accompany Scanlon’s Heaping Gore Pull by Brooklyn-based artist Paul Rowley. With Beatcroff Slabs, Knocks has delivered an album which adds to the presence of Aperture as a label, which has
seen previous releases from artists including Mira Calix & Mark Clifford, Andrea Parker & Daz Quayle, Luke Vibert, Majestic 12 and Simon Pyke.
"This album, on the other hand, while doing more or less the same thing with doomy artificial environments, irregular high-tech percussion and liquid metal as Exo, is a bona fide sonic adventure rather than just a commentary on cultural excess. Nigel Truswell's milieu is the modernist-minded British electronica of the late 1990's - Autechre, Mira calix and Luke Vibert. His second album Beatcroff Slabs is a visceral and thrilling journey through a series of rich musical scenarios, each a sensual experience that defies all but the cudest possible allusions: factories, cellars, the secret life of technology, the machinations of higher beings, perhaps. But it doesn't really need any explanations from outside of itself."
- The Wire
"Horror directors, next time you set a scene in a subterranean nightclub, instead of using deadmau5 or Skrillex, what about the dirty, sleep-deprived arrhythmic scrabble-techno made by Sheffield musician Nigel Truswell? Too scary, you say? Likely infect the fabric of the whole movie, with its malign spectral cries and churning cabin-in-the-woods evil? Understood."
"Oh, this one’s a bit spooky. Oberman Knocks is busting out some sinister electronic business with a bit of a dark ambient/dub techno bent to it. Spacious, creaking loops and swirling industrial drones combine to make a spacious, skittish computer-age nightmare of soundtracky malevolence. It sounds like a dystopian future where we all have to live in tunnels underground, kind of like Waterworld but, you know, with tunnels instead of water. I’m a little bit scared. I think I’m going to have to turn it off actually, it’s making me feel really on edge. I suppose that’s how it’s supposed to make you feel so job well done, now get it away from me!"
- Norman Records
The mallet percussionist and improviser's solo debut is flush with nostalgic melodies and stirring dissonances—a rich, experimental universe well worth exploring. Bandcamp Album of the Day Jan 15, 2021