Dusted Features

Destined: Damián Schwartz

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

Dusted's Bernardo Rondeau profiles Madrid's techno prodigy, Damián Schwartz.

Destined: Damián Schwartz

Damián Schwartz - "R y F 3"

Since surfacing in the summer of 2005 with the cool clatter of the Arena en Los Zapatos (Apnea) 12" and its caterpillar-crawling organ fingerlings, sprays of hissy fizz and pocket-calculator bleeps, Damián Schwartz has, across six singles in just a year and a half, developed into a most reliable purveyor of sleek yet corrugated techno minimalism. Schwartz is the youngest member of the Madrid-based Net28 collective that houses such dance music imprints as Apnea, CMYKmusik, Cyclical Tracks and Múpa (most of which, naturally, have Schwartz platters in their catalogues).

Spanish-born and Argentine-blooded, Schwartz began frequenting Madrid's Soma club as a teenager. There he was exposed to the likes of: "G-Man, Maurizio, Jeff Mills, Plastikman, James Ruskin, some of the Cabinet records (Borgman, Cab Drivers), some of the Ferox stuff, Roman Flügel." He professes, "'till 1999 [Soma] was amazing (for a young inexpert child like me)." Educated in dance music at full volume, Schwartz had a stint studying at the ECAM, Madrid's film school, before heeding to the sculpted voids of echo-ridged thump from his adolescence. Contacting Under through CMYKmusik, Schwartz confesses that he "was at the right place at the right moment," the novice producer soon scored himself not only a collaborator in Under (together they are Música Charlista) but a place in the burgeoning Net28 unit for his own music.

Founded in 2004 around a record-stocking, paths-crossing shop (in this case Alex Under's CMYKmusik store), Net28 is, per the company's Jose Luis Villalobos, "a family of labels and artists…[who] take care of everything: distribution, booking agency, promotion, organization of events, etc." What began with a "magnificent,” per Villalobos, 12” from Alex Under (2004's Verde Guisante) is a micro-Kompakt of sorts now (the Cologne-based conglomerate even handles Net28's wares worldwide these days) with releases not only by Under, Schwartz and cohort Tadeo in their stacks but also 12”s from such veterans of laser-cut digitalia as Thomas Brinkmann and Paul St. Hilaire among others. Far more than just a business venture, Net28 is also a cooperative project (Villalobos explains, "first of all we are friends, that's one of the reasons why everything works so smoothly: we trust a respect each other") with the inklings of a movement. In their struggle against what Villalobos calls techno's "minimal boring scene,” the Net28 alternative, characterized as "unusual & incredible,” rests in part with Schwartz, "the most cerebral character in our family" that will take dance music "into new frontiers." Still in his early twenties, Schwartz seems rather eager and able to take up this cause.

Harnessing a proclivity for "late-night hours, when the mind is totally open and in a kind of trance feeling," Schwartz began crafting tracks that have what Villalobos accurately cites as a "cold mood." Schwartz works with a palette of slate grays, frosted glass, glistening chrome and, as the very title of his second release attests, Azul Frio. In concrete terms, though, he helms his compositions with the requisite assortment of beat-boxes, tone generators and virtual modules: "little phatty (moog), evolver (Dave Smith), 303! Software: Logic pro, Live, Battery and some NI soft and ohmforce plugs, I love them." The result is a sleek bricolage that doesn't try to disguise its interlocking parts and striated structures.

2006 has seen Schwartz streamline the playful, sample-clinging chug of his first two releases (the aforementioned Arena en Los Zapatos and Azul Frio on CMYK). Hewing to "the idea of repetition, the loop, the hypnotism, the futurism mixed up with a primitive feeling of the rhythm," Schwartz has quickly progressed from forager to forerunner. From his Cosas Que Se Caen (Múpa) 12" onwards, the juxtaposition of sci-fi textures and clinking engines with propulsive, primal throbs (the fusing of "futurism" and "primitive" rhythm he describes) has defined Schwartz's sound. The gurgled titanium that courses through A-side "Tú Y Yo (Pero Nos Volvemos A Levantar),” the sneaker-sole squeals and squeaky balloon-skin peeps of "Las Abuelas" and the powdered snares of "Los Mitos" all remain tethered to pulsing planes. Schwartz describes it succinctly as "non-continuous bass, very deep and a linear structure without tricks." Dots and dashes ping-ponging through pipes rattling at 4/4 into the ether.

Villalobos call Schwartz's music "very mental, with an insane or mad twist,” perhaps an allusion to the way Schwartz's seemingly parallel sheets of buffed steel can slowly melt and warp into each other almost imperceptibly. Though openly referring to the "metallic" nature of his own sound, Villalobos even cites industrial music as a comparison, Schwartz's tracks are never grim, clanging things. Philip Sherburne, writing on Ruidos Y Frequencias 1 (Apnea), perhaps Schwartz 's crowning achievement so far in his brief career, calls it "post-Panasonic squealism," a term that can possibly be applied to Schwartz's overall work. It is sparse and supple instead of blank and brittle; if Panasonic managed to curve and bend sine waves into countless roaring, thumping monsters, Schwartz cracks them and hangs their glistening shards in pulsating clusters. The three cuts on Ruidos Y Frequencias 1 are exemplary. "R y F 1" is all squiggling oscillator doodads, crackling cartilage, and writhing currents of sluiced fuzz pocked with crystals. Flip it over and "R y F 2" has silvery hi-hats that puff like a huffing jogger, while "R y F 3" coats scattered microbial activity with scrabbled frequencies, swooshing glaciers and a murky thud. Disintegrating the durable, Schwartz's tracks have wobble and burp that belie their techiness.

In 2007, Schwartz is planning a sequel to Ruidos Y Frequencias 1, a new Múpa 12” and his first full-length album. On the latter he states, "I'm looking for something different and new…I'm trying to forget everything I have learned in the past to see what happens." When asked to elaborate on what specifically he is hoping to "forget,” Schwarz offers, "Just some things about harmony, programs, 'laws' of music, things that are important to know, but no to depend on." He concludes, his English more vividly illustrative than grammatically logical, "I think I will go for raw and void way." That should certainly be a plunge worth taking.

More Damián:

By Bernardo Rondeau

Read More

View all articles by Bernardo Rondeau

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.