Album Review: Blawan - Wet Will Always Dry
With singles stretching back to the start of the decade, and more than 10 EPs released under various guises, it’s strange to say that Wet Will Always Dry is the first LP released by South Yorkshire producer Blawan (né Jamie Roberts). With only 8 tracks – just two more than last year’s Nutrition - what could we expect on Wet Will Always Dry that would set it apart from his other releases as a true album?
The answer is not much, really – Blawan has always been a fairly no-frills producer, preferring to hammer down on the variety that can come from straightforward pulverising techno rather than branch out into new territories. Any hopes that an “album” from Blawan might include some ambient interludes or instrumental asides are not met here – but that doesn’t have any relevance when it comes to investing in the eight stompers that comprise Wet Will Always Dry.
The big, meaty central thump is the core running through the entirety of the LP, and the variety and thrills come from the various ways in which the auteur decides to dress and manipulate it. ‘Klade’ opens the album with the sound of machines slowly grinding their gears while Blawan’s insistent kick wakes them from the other side of a wall; they’re quickly purring and whizzing through different atmospheric pressures for a slick 5-minute introduction. Second track ‘Careless’ picks up with a slightly robotic swing, only for the song’s central synth motor to start glitching thrillingly, before Roberts’ own voice comes in subtly, whispering the song into a steadiness. The other occasion when vocals make an appearance is on ‘Stell’, with the wordless voice interplaying nicely with the vamping synths, but over the course of six minutes it doesn’t develop in the same way as the most satisfying tracks in the collection.
These often come when Roberts has allowed subtle little bits of colour into his sewer-like palette. ‘Tasser’ sprays out from its ink-blotter beat in hews of scratchy grey out into more shimmering sounds on the edges, the whole picture like a toxic sunset; Roberts here showing a thrilling ability to create a murky kaleidoscope even within the rigid context of techno. ‘Vented’ pairs the central pump with a slowly pinwheeling synth melody, which starts to blur into predictability before the beat drops out and a mini acid trip kicks in, where you’re suddenly in the middle of an hallucinogenic trance where sparks are peeling off the wallpaper – only to be snapped out of it by the beat thundering back like a bus whizzing inches in front of your nose. In ‘Kalosi’ the central beat is hounded through its seven minutes by persistent hissing and digital crunching, often causing the beat to stumble and eject minute samples of brass. The album finishes with its most ambitious track in ‘Nims’, where warped string plucking gets rolled up inside an imperious thump that breaks down and restarts several times over, each time with a new melody or effect, morphing the song into a new beast without losing step.
Whatever the expectation might have been ahead of the album, Wet Will Always Dry is, all in all, an extremely Blawan album; wall to wall club bangers with no fuss and no fanfare. The album has come and gone in fairly unremarked fashion, in a genre that doesn’t pay much attention to albums anyway, but at the very least there are eight more effective club bangers now out there, and hopefully some will find a comfortable home in their creator's dogged DJ sets in months to come.
This article was originally published on The 405 - 4th July 2018.