SPRING FESTIVAL - HOUTRAK
MAY 13 & 14, 2023
The worldwide reactions to his backcatalog triggered a renewed focus on serious UK Techno heralded by the Downwards imprint. Without being market-led, it was a fresh new statement and from raw talent, but most important for the sound was the unmistakable imprint of O'Connor's hand in the art. In 1996, O'Connor's progress reached crowning maturity with the Regis "Gymnastics" album/double-twelve-inch; the penultimate signature of his raw and dynamic edge. The sound was the uniqueness that he had been searching for which encapsulated and forged the cornerstone of both his and the label's identity. A deep-seated and vital root in the Birmingham Techno scene and sound, O'Connor's hard minimal Techno is rife with subtle layers of complex textures, tones and loops. Although closely linked to the fiercely independent core of Downwards producers (Surgeon, Female, Portion Reform and Regis), Karl O'Connor's own sound and never-give-up DIY success has kept Downwards well-respected while in the limelight and more importantly, without getting burned by it. In his characteristically unfailing dedication to music, O'Connor set up the Integrale Muzique distribution company in 1996 with partners Antonio Soares-vieira (Raoul Delgardo) and Peter Sutton. O'Connor captained the label with further album releases by Surgeon, Female, and Portion Reform while continuing to play live throughout Europe and America. A relatively "quiet" 1997 further stabilized Integrale and led up to the second Regis double-pack "Delivered Into the Hands of Indifference" (1998) and his first recordings for Tresor ("The Theme From Streetwalker" and "Guiltless") all of which displayed more subtle tone and texture usages within his still uncomprimising and equally unique, multi-layered production style. "The myth is greater than what I've actually put out." - Regis (Magic Feet) In addition to authoring a book about a Birmingham asylum ward, a new and progressively darker face of O'Connor's sound was reflected in his "Divine Ritual" and "Blood Into Gold" EP's (1999), both playing out ritualistic last rites in the final temple with tribal magic and chanting. Lifting the veil of mystique for 2000, O'Connor and Peter Sutton have recorded "Againstnature" in their first-ever album/double-pack outside of Downwards. Demarcating the return to their Industrial roots, the forge and the welding torch play much more significantly than traditional electronics as they are now known. Chaos with underlying structure more than "tracks". The Downwards and O'Connor stronghouses continue to remain unmoved among the many fashions and backlashes. Those with the Understanding remain an almost secret society of devotees in the UK and abroad. Shirking conforming compromise and defying media darling status never sounded so good.