On his latest 12", Benjamin Damage fully lives up to his namesake. Delivering two massive tunes completely stripped of the moody gloss which defined They!Live—his full-length effort with frequent collaborator Doc Daneeka—"Swarm" and "Headache" signal a new twist on the producer's talent, succesfully turning his focus towards more powerful dancefloor workouts.
Without question, Damage's run has been a little hard to follow over the past few years. Nevertheless, the Berlin-based Welshman has proven capable of applying his talents to various slants within the bass-minded dance-music spectrum, impressively sounding at home within all of them. Perhaps the most memorable of these ventures was 2011's "Creeper," an absolute tune Damage penned alongside Daneeka (a later version of which also appeared on the pair's aforementioned joint LP). In some respects, "Swarm" feels like it's focused on the Damage side of "Creeper," repurposing the song's forcefulness and heavy-bodied drums. But where "Creeper" relied on slippery synths and post-everything-style textures, "Swarm" delves into tenser sonic territory, leading with a distortion-tinged sequence—one informed by Berlin-style techno but touched with a slightly overdriven trashiness reminiscent of Untold's recent trilogy of singles. With its patient intro and undeniable low-end heft, it's hard to imagine "Swarm" not becoming a staple of DJ sets in the months to come.
"Headache" is deceivingly easy to overlook when compared to its a-side counterpart. Caught in a constant build-up, the effort seems like a tool more than a proper track. A bit of the crunchy tinge from "Swarm" is still present, but "Headache" trades in the former song's robust sonics for a punchier, more driving tonality. It seems like the kind of track that is intended to be maddening, especially when it's following something as rewarding as this single's monster lead tune.