Going by his surname, London-based producer Oscar Powell records abrasive, distorted experimental techno that displays a biting sense of humor and an irreverent attitude toward the conventions of club music. He's influenced by '80s post-punk and industrial (especially acts such as Suicide and the Fall) as well as British hardcore techno and drum'n'bass, and he prefers using gritty guitars and primitive drums in his tracks rather than heavy, swinging basslines. His unconventional recordings have earned much acclaim from the underground music press, and he's achieved a considerable amount of notoriety due to his confrontational DJ sets as well as his correspondence with legendary indie rock musician/recording engineer Steve Albini.
Powell co-founded Diagonal with Jaime Williams in 2011. The label's first releases were Powell's EPs The Ongoing Significance of Steel & Flesh and Body Music, and releases followed by similar-minded artists such as S**t & Shine and Prostitutes. Diagonal soon joined the ranks of well-regarded experimental labels such as Pan and Editions Mego, and Powell released EPs on additional labels such as Liberation Technologies and The Death of Rave in 2013. Following the 2014 release of Club Music as well as its remix EP, Powell compiled his first four years' worth of EPs onto the double CD 11-14.
In 2015, Powell signed to XL and released the single "Sylvester Stallone." This was followed by "Insomniac," which featured a sample of Steve Albini introducing a song during a gig by his band Big Black. Powell contacted Albini via email in order to clear the sample, and Albini responded by expressing his hatred for electronic dance music. Albini told Powell that he could sample whatever he wanted, and that he wasn't interested in listening to it. XL bought a billboard in London and printed Albini's email on it, causing a bit of an uproar among music fans. Powell asked if he could use the correspondence in the track's video, to which Albini replied "still don't care." In 2016, Powell toured North America with Not Waving and Russell Haswell in celebration of Diagonal's fifth anniversary. He also released the 12" single Frankie + Jonny, which preceded his full-length debut, Sport. ~ Paul Simpson