Perc’s (Ali Wells) second full length album – and follow up to his breakthrough 2011 ‘Wicker and Steel’ – comes at a time when Industrial Techno’s stock is at the highest it has been for years. Part of this is down to Wells himself, a producer, who along with careerist Surgeon, Ancient Methods and even Blawan , has to some, become the scene’s de-facto figurehead. His ‘Perc Trax’ label – a highly uncompromising imprint that explores and adheres to an extremely singular, fuzzy and distorted aesthetic- has ,on its own, been responsible for a very high proportion of the best releases the genre has had to offer over recent years. Pugnacious is not a word that generally gets banded around in a positive way, but with ‘The Power and the Glory’ Perc is on belligerently cantankerous form; combining noisey, twisted, atmospherics with angular, sharp sound design and pummeling, repetitive beats that burrow and drill into your subconscious in a way only really immersive, dirty Techno music can.
Although bearing little resemblance to the glitched out, frazzled aesthetic fostered by Warp and its cohorts in the 90s, Perc’s ‘The Power…’ shares the same argumentative, confrontational nature that his lauded predecessors reveled in – although,without the chin-strokey, straight-up weirdness that characterised the work of the first and second wave of IDM producers. Techno is by its very nature a loop based, repetitive art form that exults in its ability to either lull people into hypnotic trances – via the use gentle, slow timbral modulations and fluxes in dynamics – or completely destroy what the listener thought they knew about themselves and music. Perc’s mousic although tethered firmly in both the camps mentioned above, has the ability to astound like no-one else at working within a Techno framework at this time. Take for example ‘Lurch’, a staggering tune that initially feels out of step due to the prominently odd placements of the tunes preliminary drum hits, before building on its start point via the clever use of multiple polyrythmic snippets that supplement the groove, firming up the tracks rhythmic bed, allowing the initial loop to finally make sense by becoming part of ‘the greater good’. This building up of layers and layers of polyrhythms, although nothing new, is characteristic of Perc’s work and is deployed to great effect throughout the album.
It’s not however all blood and guts nosebleed Techno. There are moments of dark, at points drone based, beatless ‘ambient’ music that at points recalls Roly Porter’s solo work or the depressed, nocturnal aesthetic adopted by the Modern Love and Tri Angle labels – as shown on ‘Horse Gum’ and ‘The Living End. These sit alongside the more playful, almost funky (well as funky as Perc can get!), yet still darkly deranged ‘Dumpster’, a track that united a relentless 4×4 Techno rhythm with Funk guitar licks, old drum breaks, phasey, flanged hi-hats and Trance-esque reverb builds. Whereas tunes such as ‘Take Your Body Off’ come across like a devilish mashup of classic Hardcore and slow-mo Gabba, with Breaksy drum patterns uniting with distorted kicks, up-front, grubby human screams and a dirt encrusted high-end.
‘The Power and the Glory’ is brimming with attitude and nimbly sidesteps lazy genre associations by primarily working outside of a 4×4 framework and relying more on alien noises and repetition and manipulation of non-rhythmic elements to build up his abstract yet highly danceable grooves. His use of noise and sonic oddities to engineer almost ‘reverse’ drops is at points stunning, with energy, sound effects, distortion and noise levels being constantly ramped up until there is no space to go, before launching into more minimal, energetic workouts before building up and then down again. Its truly exhilarating to behold at points. His mastery of this monochrome sound palette is stunning, with feelings of unease being humped upon feelings of dread at every given opportunity. There is no respite, only Perc,The.Power.And.The.Glory.
‘The Power And The Glory’is out now on Perc Trax. Buy it here.