When Modeselektor’s Monkey Town Records launched imprint 50 Weapons in 2005, they had the mindset of releasing 50 records. That day has arrived with the release of Benjamin Damage’s second LP on the Berlin label. Obsidian is Damage’s third album having previously collaborated with Doc Daneeka on They!Live (click the title for our review) in 2010 and releasing his first solo album in 2013, Heliosphere. Billed as a fitting end to 10 years of the 50 Weapons label given Damage was the first artist outside of Modeselektor to get a release on it, Obsidian is described by Benjamin as a personal project, “a collection of fragmented memories from all the music I’ve ever liked, distorted and restructured into a full length techno record.”
The fragments Damage speaks of will have influenced all the artists who released on the label, and piecing them together feels right for its final act.
Obsidian is exactly that: an eclectic blend of electronic music influences sewn together into a rich tapestry of techno in all its forms. “Obsidian” is an evocative, melodic opener blending into the soft, yet effective, kick drum powering “Cosmonaut” with its glistening synths. “Monolith” takes the linear techno route which continues through “Transmission” with Damage yet to hit top gear. There’s a pause for breath on “Pulse Width” before the long introduction to “Shimmer” with a broken beat you might expect from a Rephlex artist. There’s a Detroit vibe about “Vostok 6”, “Parallax View” and closer “Trickster” - inbetween Damage gives hints of AFX and Autechre with the complex rhythms of “Tetrapod” and “HRM TX”.
Obsidian is no one-trick LP of 4/4 techno juggernauts. Damage has delivered a measured album that brings 50 Weapons to a fitting close. The fragments Damage speaks of will have influenced all the artists who released on the label, and piecing them together feels right for its final act. So Obsidian could be viewed as a love letter to the 49 albums that preceeded it, waving tenderly goodbye as it serenades the artists who contributed. The high-quality output will be sorely missed.