Review: Kowton - Utility | Soundspace

Review: Kowton – Utility

Kowton, Livity Sound, Bristol, Techno, Minimal

The debut album from Kowton, otherwise known as Joe Cowton, is set to be released on the 15th of April under the Bristol based Livity Sound imprint. Kowton has released material on the label (run by Peverelist) before, a collaborative album was put together by Kowton, Peverelist and Asusu, but Utility marks Cowton’s first solo project.

The album is set to be a nine track, dark, bass driven stomper; the kind of sound that we have come to identify with Livity Sound.

Kowton has spoken about the album, giving detail on the title and his conceptual vision.

“The name Utility came from a series of conversations I had in the build up to finishing the record. What feels most persistent to me right now is writing concise music with purpose and direction. Visceral music that’s uncluttered both socially and theoretically. I wanted to create an LP that works on the floor but is nuanced enough to justify repeat listens and self aware enough to sit as a complete album.”

Uncluttered is exactly what Kowton has achieved; a minimalistic flow is executed subtly throughout. Bass driven techno reigns supreme, with added influence from Bristol drum and bass and dubstep. The album maintains the type of sound you would expect to hear in someone’s basement at 4am whilst you sweat to the point of dehydration… and it’s brilliant. It’s cold and rugged, yet it doesn’t intimidate, instead it encourages the listener to slip slowly into a groove in which they’ll never want to leave.

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The first track, ‘Comments Off’ begins with heavy bass as a two step clap begins. Industrial keys play out as the track continues to evolve. Second track, ‘Scido’, starts its life in groovy fashion Icy synths are implemented alongside dominant hi-hats that will have you doing your best impression of a walking pigeon as your neck goes back and forth.

‘Balance’ is arguably the best track on the record, and immediately initiates a frightening aura. Beeping sounds, like those you would hear on a shuttle approaching an alien planet, grow in volume before a monstrous bassline begins to rumble. It again maintains a minimal persona, but with just enough to keep you intrigued. The track continues to develop before the bassline pauses and gives way to an eerie, atmospheric soundscape as you explore the mysterious planet you’ve landed on.

‘Sleep Chamber is introduced with a growling bassline as a half human/half android voice repeatedly repeats the tracks name. Moody, melancholic synths swirl to enhance the spooky, euphoric feel. ‘Some Cats’ continues to demonstrate perfect execution in the art of subtly, a talent that could be compared with Manchester duo, Akkord.

‘Loops 1’ establishes itself with an acid feel. That, alongside a deafening bassline, creates what can only be described as an exotically dark track. ‘Bubbling Under’ plays witness to tribal drums receptively beating to create one of the most infectious tracks on the record. Monster like screams can be heard as the track threatens to boil over, just before taking a periodic breather.

‘A Bluish Shadow’ begins slowly. A melodic atmosphere is met with a slow bassline. It’s very calming, and maintains a euphoric atmosphere while also keeping its mystery. Metallic sounds can be heard as you continue to move slowly. This is a song to vibe to.

The album finalises with ‘Shots Fired’. At 5:42 it’s the longest track on the record. Ambiguous synths circulate as the track builds. The track never seems to hit its peak; instead it keeps the listener guessing as to what will happen next.

With Utility, Kowton has created a club friendly, minimalistic soundtrack that can be enjoyed just as much as a complete album, just like he wanted. It’s shrouded in mystery, and is just another example of the unique dark, bass driven sounds coming out of Bristol. Keep your eyes peeled for future Livity Sound releases.

Utility by Kowton will be released on the 15th April under Livity Sound.

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