Photos by Chris Richardson /
Perc's Album Launch photo gallery
Pattern Cutters Warehouse
242 - 248 Kingsland Road
e8 (opposite Russian Bar)
Perc celebrates his birthday and the release of his much anticipated new Album with Techno Therapy Records!!!
Release date: 10/06/11
RA News feed - http://www.residentadvisor.net/news.aspx?id=13998
'Wicker & Steel’ is the pure distillation of the Perc sound. An instantly recognisable sound that has seen him appear on scene-leading labels such as Stroboscopic Artefacts, CLR, Ovum and Kompakt and which has taken him across the globe spreading the gospel of his own vision of techno. Fusing a list of influences including classic Birmingham and Berlin techno, the early UK hardcore, jungle and drum & bass of A Guy Called Gerald, Ed Rush and Suburban Base and vintage British horror films such The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General and the output of the legendary Hammer studios, Perc’s musical DNA is almost as unique as his production sound. Todd Burns wrote in the write-up for Perc’s recent Resident Advisor podcast that it is on Perc Trax where Perc has shined the brightest and this can be attributed to Perc Trax giving Perc the pure creative freedom to venture wherever his constantly morphing sense of musical experimentation leads him. As the label pushes towards it’s 50th vinyl release the fans of Perc’s music know to expect the occasional surprise and like Perc’s 2007 breakthrough hit 'Up’ (Kompakt) what seems like a curveball at the time is often rehashed by less forward thinking producers with continuingly diminishing returns in the months and years following the release. 'Wicker & Steel’ opens with atmospheric monologue 'Choice’, a description of the twin frustrations of growing up in the sub-culturally barren suburbs surrounding London and of leading a life of music and performance when you refuse to conform to the dominant mainstream ideals. Underpinned by sporadic gothic chords the influence here of Perc’s beloved UK/Hammer horror films is evident to hear. Next comes lead single 'My Head Is Slowly Exploding’ which fuses industrial percussion with sampled chords harking back to the golden age of early UK hardcore/jungle. 'Start Chopping’ explodes into view next as an overdriven percussion loop provides one of the album’s standout club tracks. The same vocal ticks and grunts that have been part of Perc’s recent releases on CLR and Stroboscopic Artefacts add a human element to this most machine-like of grooves. 'You Saw Me’ is one of the deeper rhythmic tracks on the album as a low- slung 808 kick provides the foundation for a combination of drones, submerged vocal samples and swinging dancehall-inspired rhythms. 'Pre- Steel’ can almost be seen as a partner to 'Choice’ as a quietly chattering freight-train rhythm locks in with occasional ripples of sub-bass to provide a breather before the combined percussive assaults of 'Gonkle’ and 'London, we have you surrounded’ charge over the horizon. 'Gonkle’ is built upon galloping rhythms that tip their hat to Perc’s Birmingham techno heroes. Sonar pings, metallic hits and synth stabs enter the arrangement almost at random as the track somehow holds itself together. 'London, we have you surrounded’ opens with stretched rave/hardcore stabs before launching into a trademark Perc broken beat rhythm. Occasional half-time snares echo both London’s bass music culture and Perc’s recent 'Purple’ on CLR. Again detuned pads add a melodic touch but the beats are the primary focus of the track. 'Snow Chain’ is something different for Perc. Recorded in one-take using purely analogue sound sources, the sounds of near ancient Boss drum machine are fused with drones and hand-played percussion hits. Swept analogue delays add atmosphere as the track provides a final chance to relax before 'Wicker & Steel’s closing track. Torn over whether to end the album with the now clichéd epic dancefloor track or a moment of ambient reflection Perc opts for another tactic. 'Jmurph’ is Perc at his most playful, as the sounds of Berlin/Birmingham industrial techno are forced into a warped version of the swinging rhythms of UK garage. Clipped snares and a pounding kick rhythm provide the basis for this invention and by the time the over-shuffled 909 hihats arrive after the first break the track is moving to a rhythm all of its own.
Perc is one of electronic dance music’s reference points: an internationally touring DJ, label owner and one of the finest producers around. For London-based Perc, aka Ali Wells, his rise to prominence has seen him releasing atmospheric drone and premium techno tracks since 2002. It was pretty clear that he was heading for good things when James Holden supported one of his early demos. Holden wasn’t wrong.
In 2007 things started to get interesting when Perc was noticed by the taste- making Kompakt records. With the release of “Up” to massive critical acclaim remix requests flooded in and Perc was invited by DJ Hell to remix “Buttersäure”. The result was an industrially fortified techno remix that sparked interest across the scene, particularly for Adam Beyer who approached Perc for new materiel for his Drumcode imprint. That year the brilliant “Sticklebrick” EP came out on Drumcode which lead to another remix for a heavyweight, this time Trentemøller. By the end of 2007 Perc was at the forefront of electronic music making huge impressions globally.
As a DJ, Perc has taken to the decks at countries like Mexico and Japan and in seminal clubs like Berlin’s Berghain. His approach? Perc’s hard drive brims with tracks including his own productions and gigabytes of tools. His sound? It’s a blend of the cream of current techno and choice selections from electronic music’s Birmingham and Detroit forefathers. When it comes to playing live Perc goes deep. He mixes purely his own productions both released and unreleased, reconfiguring them into driving sounds; drone becomes big room techno becomes broken-beat becomes groove. Perc creates DJ and live sets that are industrial landscapes optimized for the dance floor.
His label, Perc Trax, started in 2004 as a way for Perc to release his own productions, but it’s organically evolved into much more than just that. Under Perc’s careful guidance it’s developed a cutting edge core roster of Sawf, Forward Strategy group, Perc, Donor / Truss with heavyweights like Samuli Kempi guesting. With parties in London, Miami, Glasgow, Mexico, it’s clear that there are people in every corner of the globe with an ear to the ground, listening for where the eclectic Perc Trax will go next.
2010 was a brilliant year for Perc, seeing the release of “Vertigo I & II” on Perc Trax, a 12” on CLR and “Monad V” on Stroboscopic Artefacts. His productions clearly stem from an amalgam of influences and a listen to Perc’s excellent CLR or RA podcast begins to praise the lid off these origins: early nineties drum and bass to British Hammer horror film aesthetics. The horror genre influence is felt in Perc’s approach, his releases and DJ
sets are filled with tension and play with the audience’s expectations. Perc is currently in the studio working on his first album. The record will no doubt gather together the direction of Perc’s back catalogue and take it to the outer fringes of techno. Not just 4/4, but out into the sinister, droning edges of electronic dance music. As always, Perc is one to listen out for.
Words: Clare Molloy