Album Reviews

Bozzwell – Bits & Pieces

(Firm) UK release date: 25 October 2010


Bozzwell spends most of Bits & Pieces singing. TheSheffield-based techie has a husky rasp of a voice that soundscuriously and generationally aged over the whirring beat-sequences hecues up. Minimal techno is more or less a stranger to vocal samples,much less a lyrics sheet, so hearing the veteran wax obsessively onan unrequited flame over a snapping, cyclical drum-loop is a littlejarring. “She’s 24 years of age /she’s got long brown hair that fallsto her shoulders /she says she wants to live in Berlin /…got to keepmyself busy.” It’s not often a hypnotic head-nod producer injectssobering emotion into an album made up of singular electronics.

The closest Bozzwell gets to flat-out electro-pop is on I Get ARush, the song that evolves the most over the course of itsrunning time. It strings together a carbonated spaceship synth with anever-dependable sequence of crystalline piano chords (a la UlrichSchnauss, Opus III, and a million other glassy-eyed danceoutfits) but besides that Bozzwell hangs the composition in a vacuum -taking advantage of the Kompakt-esque negative space. He sings vaguelyabout “getting closer to the enemy”; information about what or who thatenemy is isn’t privy to the listener, but it resonates over the encroaching, ominous electronics.

Bits & Pieces does a good job of bridging the gap between emo-housemopiness and mesmerized head-trip danceability. On a track-by-trackbasis Bozzwell migrates from glossy, A.M.-loving micro-bangers tofully-realized and fully-vocalized performance songs, but he keeps inhis nocturnal dreamland throughout, reducing the ravey euphoriaand druggy entrancement of modern tech-house in a quiet dosage ofinterweaving clicks, blips and beeps.

Space Ranger’s somnolentdownwards-arpeggiating synth and MIDI-touched bass is the album’sdancefloor choice, but even that feels more developed for theheadphones rather than the club. Jarvis Called Me His Understudy – well, he is from Sheffield – repeats a clipped “put your hands up!” over a metallic scrape and adroning bass-synth – not really the thing we’re accustomed to “puttingour hands up” to. Escape Fire layers a seasick sax over a cloppingdrum machine, while I Can’t Be Bozzwell mashes jangly mod-rock guitar withethereal undertones. At every musical turn Bozzwell makes theinteresting choice, regardless of logic’s dictation.

He squeezes enough out of his experiments in subtlety to makethe dense 52 minutes of Bits & Pieces sound remarkably varied. As thetitle implies, the record feels like a clearing-house of ideas,half-songs, unused melodies and random inspiration, but he’s able to make everything sound inplace. The songs stick together in a hypnagogic absorption ofminiature sound, but united through Bozzwell’s humanistic qualities,his voice, his off-kilter choice in texture; these aspects are what make thisrecord hooky.


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