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Perc – A New Brutality [EP]

July 3, 2012

Ali Wells creates finely-honed noise under the moniker of Perc – a name under which he released his hugely compelling debut album, ‘Wicker & Steel’, in 2011 – a masterful tour-de-force of techno.

Wicker. Steel. Two vastly contradictory components. My former art teacher would time and time again impart his wisdom on this very ideology until it swarmed the malleable little minds of the class; to find two opposing concepts, bring them together, deconstruct them – a process that would often provide the most interesting results. The punctum and studium theory of Roland Barthes theory in short.

The abstract punctum can exist in tandem with the more ‘straightforward’ studium, but, disrupts it; with the punctum providing a rare detail, a sui generis, a fascinating hook, that ultimately encompasses the entire thing and fills it wholly. The allure of the punctum is powerful against this studium background. This is exactly what Perc succeeded in – marrying a number of sounds and ideas; from a base in driving-techno whilst adding a menacing, disturbed edge. Bleak, yet hopeful. Forward-thinking, yet harking back to a Throbbing Gristle-esque industrial sound. Organic, yet mechanical. Wicker and steel.

You get the point. Violently named EP A New Brutality (out via Perc Trax) continues this notion from almost the very first second, as the eponymous (and first) track delves into five-and-a-half minutes wall of harsh, visceral noise, and proceeds to dominate it’s surroundings for an all out techno-assault. The pounding beat provides a consistent dance-orientated undertone layered with a savage industrial framework. A devastating, unrelenting drugged-up, dragged-out techno-hurricane. Don’t forget to breath.

‘Cash 4 Gold’ is an eerie, more spaced out number (it would be obscene to continue the pace of the opener) with Percs trademark brokenbeat style spliced with a skeletal unearthly synth. It’s the closest thing to Shackleton-leaning dubstep he’s likely to produce, but of course far much more than that is going on here in his finally crafted electronic landscape. This continues into ‘Boy’ somewhat, the track that’s most likely to loose yourself on a dance floor, containing a build/rise/fall mentality of classic 4/4 techno. It features a tremendous bleak and fiery crescendo, and subsequent timely fall; the timing is something that Perc nails throughout the EP, nothing is seemingly left to chance. Every nuance feels calculated, every shift natural.

The EP is closed with the gorgeous ‘Before I Go’, which when compared to the opener’s busy and aggressive barrage, is difficult to believe the tracks are from the same planet, least alone the same EP. Here we have a watery, minimalist number with susurrus tones and a looped emaciated piano, producing something that is somewhere between Max Richter, and The Field at their most introspective.

And therein lies one of the strengths of a fantastically didactic EP – Perc possessing the bravery to push genres to their absolute extremities, confident in undermining limitations set by so many previous artists in electronica. A true pioneer. You know an EP is pretty special when you already are desperate to know what the next step will be.

8/10

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