Parisian Paul Régimbeau, AKA Mondkopf, has spoken of his recent work being influenced by black metal, and it's hard not to notice its presence throughout his Perc Trax debut, The Nicest Way. Its three tracks are concerned with stark contrasts between light and shade, and prioritise atmosphere over dance floor functionality. The closing moments of lead track "No Icons" offer a good example. After relentlessly bludgeoning the listener for five minutes with iron-plated kicks and furnace-roar ambience, the mood abruptly flips: the music lapses into near silence, and a lonely chorus of brass instruments drifts into earshot, ending on a melancholy but distinctly hopeful note. Equally, there's a gothic grandeur to "Ruins," all low-end throb, clashing static, rising strings and disembodied choral song.
Listening to these tracks as standalone artefacts, it's not easy to imagine dancing to them: a lack of high-end percussion strips them of propulsion and they frequently lapse into periods of quiet. That said, there's an elasticity to Mondkopf's beats that makes them deceptively funky, and in the right DJ's hands they'd doubtless prove fiercely effective in a club setting. That doesn't really feel like the point, though, as The Nicest Way exists on the margins of what you might define as dance music. It's strongly influenced by the harder ends of techno, but uses it as a tool with which to approach broader compositional ideas that encompass metal, post-punk and even soundtracks.