Desolate Ways is a four-track Australian hardcore techno / gabber (or whatever the kids call it these days) by Australian dark n bass artist Paulblackout — and yes, that’s the correct spelling. Many people use “Paul Blackout” but this is incorrect, as is evident on the cover artwork below.
Desolate Ways is a vinyl record released at the end of 2004. It came out on the now defunct French hardcore techno label Epileptik Productions — and let me tell you, the title track Desolate Ways has to be one of the best hardcore techno in my (admittedly modest) collection.
HARDCORE, GABBER AND SPEEDCORE
The standout quality about Desolate Ways is the superb title track. Quite simply, brilliant, dark and menacing — but not overdone. It’s fast (180bpm), pounding, analogue-sounding hardcore techno, with rolling beats and with that ominous analogue edge to it. Keep in mind that this was released a decade ago, from a guy who runs, lives and breathes a dark drum n bass record label, and yet it still stands up magnificently.
In all honesty, I could come up with words to describe how this track should make you feel — but they’d be mere words. The first time I heard this I thought it was a cool, nasty and somewhat fast kind of track. That was just the first 30 seconds of the intro. Then the main kick on this track began and I was floored.
Unfortunately, the Epileptik Productions label is now defunct so finding a legitimate online version of this track may prove challenging. So take my word for it when I say you can and totally should buy this record because. Last I checked, the Discogs page for this record was flogging it for less than $2.
IS IT SPEEDCORE?
The other memorable thing about Desolate Ways is that fact that it’s a fast record, but not unnecessarily or pretentiously so.
I’ve encountered this problem on various hardcore techno and gabber records I’ve acquired over the years. While I like fast and hard music, the problem with a lot of the speedcore I own is that it comes across as unnecessarily obnoxious.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that speedcore is legendary for its piss-taking qualities, surpassed in its lack of seriousness only by grindcore and breakcore.
What gets old pretty quickly is the way far too many artists engage in what is essentially a giant dick swinging contest. Just as with so many extreme heavy metallers, who vie to see who can play the fastest and the hardest, so too does this phenomenon exists among certain electronic artists making hardcore and speedcore. Who can crank up their software and drum programming to the limit of human endurance? Who cares if it’s any good?
Fortunately that feeling does is not present on the Desolate Ways record. Two of the tracks on Desolate Ways clock in at 220bpm — that’s speedcore territory in anyone’s book — and one comes close to 230bpm, yet it somehow all feels that it’s at the right tempo. Sure, it’s still extreme music by mainstream standards, but it’s not extreme music that’s trying to out-extreeme the extreme. It feels entirely right, it sounds excellent, and the result is an outstanding hardcore sound.
DESOLATE WAYS ARTWORK
I once had the pleasure of briefly meeting Paulblackout. This was at a gig in support of The DJ Producer. Apart from being a nice bloke, he asked me, after I mentioned I was a fan of Desolate Ways, if I owned the real vinyl pressing, which of course I did.
As you can see, the sleeve artwork is a creepy black and white negative-reversed photo on of what looks like a desolate (see what I did there?) country road; nearby is a post box or street number with the number 666.
It turns out that this is an actual photo, shot (if memory serves me correctly) on a back-road down here in the Australian state of Victoria. I don’t know if Paul took the photo himself, but the fact that this is a local piece of “artwork” I think is pretty cool.
The Desolate Ways sleeve artwork is in Melbourne, Australia, apparently.
It’s just a shame, as mentioned previously, that the French hardcore techno label that released this record, Epileptik Productions, is now defunct. Of course, Hardline Rekordingz, Paulblackout’s drum and bass music record label, is very much still around and releasing killer hard tunes. Check it out.
PAULBLACKOUT: DESOLATWE WAYS TRACK BPM TEMPOS
A1 Desolate Ways | 180bpm
A2 Baby Cloners Came From Outer Space | 230bpm
B1 Sui-Sonic | 220bpm
B2 Violent Behaviour | 220bpm