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Imagine a collab between Cabaret Voltaire and Eric Copeland mixed by The Scientist and you’ll start to enter the sphere of Robin Asselman. ‘Fitness Talk’ perhaps best showcases Assel’s interest in Dubwise production techniques, and his ability to soak up a palette of sound and turn it into something truly his own. Soft familiar bass pads provide the backbone here for all out sample mayhem, a space where recognisable dub effects and sonars vibe alongside absolutely unsettling outer samples of jarring vocals and inaudible upset, purposefully mixed to jolt ears into unfamiliar territories.
Being the Nephew of DJ Marcelle, this experimental approach and inspiring concept of pushing samples to the absolute limits of their origin to create a new unexplored path is clearly something that has been fed down from Marcelle to Robin throughout his youth.
Assel strives to convey the same elements of anticipation, surprise, and suspense in the listener as he himself experiences during the production process, and it is this successful translation where the power of Assel’s music lies. As also is the case with other contemporary acts that push the boundaries of electronic music such as N.M.O & N1L, there is this almost tangible and terrifying physicality to Assel’s sound, yet it retains an undeniably subtle workout groove. Perhaps this groove is enabled by the obvious dub and techno influence throughout the EP, both through Assel’s utilisation and realisation of the importance of the space in-between and his striking use of samples which seemingly dart out of nowhere, intentionally beaming from the mix to transform ears to that next zone
‘Barbecue Stains’ and ‘Pantoffels’ up the pace with layer upon layer of technoid strictness. Grooves come and go throughout, never settling in one spot for too long, but rather opting to explore the dramatic effects of each differing loop cycle and heavily treated vocal sample, again reinforcing this impression of Assel as a producer who never takes the easy path, or follows any kind of musical rule, but rather always looks forward for new angles to approach composition.
“Music always should be surprising and make you alert. You must be on your toes and you should feel that anything could happen, the weirder the better. I love darkness and grit in music, it’s great when it doesn’t quite fit - that’s far more interesting to me then any kind of smoothness.” – Robin Asselman / Assel
‘This will not stand’ opens and closes in similar fashions through ‘Don Leo 2’ and ‘Don Leo 1’, with Assel crystallising the themes of grit, surrealism, absurdism, dub, and experimentalism explored over the EPs 22 minutes into two short sharp bursts.