This week sees the release of a long-awaited repress of Penetration, a classic, none-more-menacing 2001 album by Regis.
Regis is best known these days for his role in Sandwell District, the increasingly prominent techno collective that also numbers Silent Servant, Female and Function. His recent productions have been quite stripped-back and low-slung affairs, but Regis – real name Karl O’Connor – will always be remembered first and foremost as architect of the uniquely heavy, industrial “Birmingham sound”. Taking influence from the grubby electronic experiments of the post-punk UK underground and the high-velocity club-smashing of Jeff Mills, Regis founded the Downwards label in 1995, providing a platform primarily for his own work and that of fellow Midlanders Surgeon (with whom Regis collaborated on the seminal British Murder Boys 12″s), Female (Peter Sutton) and Ian J. Richardson. Fifteen years later it’s still in perfectly rude health.
On first listen, vintage Regis productions can sound a little too hard and fast for a modern sensibility used to everything being house-paced, but if you give into their sheer violence then it quickly becomes obvious how infernally funky they are as well, pumelling 4/4 kickdrums obscuring all kinds of tripped-out syncopations beneath the surface. In terms of album-length transmissions, the essentials are 1996’s Gymnastics, 2000’s Againstnature (a collaboration with Peter Sutton) and then 2001’s Penetration, which also happens to be his most accessible offering to date.
Regis’s notoriously mucky black humour is apparent in Penetration‘s track titles – ‘White Stains’, ‘Get On Your Knees’, ‘Aftertaste of Guilt’, etc – but there’s nothing funny about the tracks themselves, which are unrelenting and ritualistically intense, with thickly layered, tribalistic percussion sequences haunted by barely perceptible vocal loops and groaning industrial noise. The Downwards reissue, available on limited double-vinyl, is out now; check out some clips here.
A1. Get On Your Knees
A2. Slave To The Inevitable
B1. It’s A Man’s World
C. White Stains
D2. Aftertaste of Guilt