Review: Oscar Mulero – Black Propaganda

“Black Propaganda” is an album which begs no contextualization. Rather, it requires forty-three minutes of your time and the entirety of your imagination. Get ready for a restless night.

The album begins with “The Dirt,” a dystopian drone. The earth is dead, and the electrical lines coming from old coal factories are finally rusting to the point of disintegration. An unexpected silence sends chills up the spine of the listener, and leave them wondering just what sort of ghastly territory this album is going to take them to. Moments later, we’re deep in bass. “Instant Widespread of the Dirt” is a temple built to reverb and low-end kick drums. A sincere example of negative beauty, its harsh sonorous high-end drones are truly haunting. About halfway through the track, Mulero includes what would be considered “normal” techno percussion – with a twist. The hits are so bathed in reverb it makes the drum roll appear as an object unto itself.

“Introducing Errors” brings us back to a slightly electrical theme, complimented by dubbed noise that brings old trains to mind. While maintaining the brooding mood of the first two tracks of the album, this piece moves into a more danceable mode; I would not be surprised to hear it played early in the evening at the likes of Berghain or Tresor. Stepping into “Disinformation,” we’re immediately confronted with a percussive track. Textured, gritty beats set the framework for heavy sub bass action. Dubbed out tones swoop in to fill out the mid-range and give a sort of draining, unforgiving completeness to the track. Drones rise out of the distance and the track pushes on mercilessly, growing ever more tastefully dreadful. This track would feel at home in a mix by the likes of Regis or Surgeon.

Metallic kicks introduce “To Convince for the Untruth,” which evolves at a more rapid pace than the album’s preceding tracks; this lends a sense of urgency, as if the album is desperately trying to communicate some message before being annihilated. “Intentionally False” takes a step back and lets drifting sounds once again be doused in reverb. If anything, this track allows the listener to take a quick breath before diving back into the abyss. The metallic alarm of “Inaccurated Information” puts the listener on the alert. 909 hits lead the assault, reinforced by a murky low-pass filtered motif. After a rapid disavowal of this theme, the listener is thrown back into the dirt with “False Statements.” This one is straightforward hard techno, making me nostalgic for the bleakest of late night afterparties. After a good forty minutes of urgent, rushing rhythms, the album closes with its title track, “Black Propaganda.” This eerie drone (layered with destroyed speech samples) gives us no resolution, no closure; all the terrible things that we could imagine came to fruition.

I will go as far as to say that this is unequivocally one of the finest dark/drone techno albums I have had the pleasure of listening to thus far. There are no gimmicks, no half-baked hooks. I sincerely hope that this avenue is more explored by techno artists in the future.