Powell – Jonny (2016)

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Powell is the Mr Robot of electronica, hacking its code to create an idiosyncratic style that’s truly off-grid. On his debut album, bizarre elements that shouldn’t make sense – looped bass guitar thrums, Skype calls, 8-bit bloops, static and distortion – knot together to make wilfully obstreperous tunes, coming as much from ATP-era noise-rock (he sampled Nirvana producer and Big Black member Steve Albini, much to Albini’s chagrin) as they do computer wizardry. Here, melody takes a backseat to punk drums and bass. On first listen, Powell’s rugged rhythms could feel clunky but in fact they tug you into unruly grooves; his restless takes on electroclash (the deadpan Frankie), post-punk (the Mark E Smith-sampling Junk), punk-funk (Plastic) and Lightning Bolt by way of Peaches (Jonny) are so playful you can sense the glint in his eye as he mangles them together. At 14 songs it’s long, and tracks like Mad Love drag compared to the rip-roaring Jonny, but then Sport is an album of extremes. When music is as joyfully oddball as this, it’s worth the hurdles.

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