Of course, that same description could apply to Peterkin's contemporaries—Detroit house producers like Mike Huckaby and Rick Wade, as well as members of the Underground Quality cohort (Jus-Ed was an early production mentor). But there's another characteristic that sets him a few degrees apart from those artists: an affinity for warm, emotive synth lines. Sometimes they're rough-edged, other times buffed to a sheen. They can soar high in the air, or snake low to the ground. More often than not, a humming synth playing a starring role.
That's especially true on Escapism. Take "Get Ready": an anxious keyboard riff undulates alongside a sparse, rugged rhythm, with ghostly vocals snippets intoning the track's title. As with most other tracks on the album, the cut would kick like a mule over a big system, but the attention is focused on the higher registers—namely, that synth, placed front and center in the mix.
But it's more than just a few synth bits that make the album so inviting. Peterkin weaves his keyboard lines around studiously constructed frameworks—every spectral vocal, hissing hi-hat and oscillating bass tone is exactly where it's supposed to be. But rather than sap the music of soul, his careful approach to arrangement accentuates his blend of dance floor abandon and late-night wistfulness.
Occasionally, the music veers towards cliché. "All I Want to Say," for instance, draws from the nearly parched well of Loleatta Holloway samples—in this case, "Love Sensation." But the track's tough, tom-led rhythm, juxtaposed against pulsing keys, makes for yet another dance floor head rush. "21 Century Artist," another highlight, features celestial swirls of synths, layered over a gently throbbing bass and propulsive drum pattern. It's a gorgeously meandering piece of music.
Like its predecessor, 2010's The Incredible Adventures Of Captain P, Escapism has the feel of a travelogue. Ambient interludes weave in recordings of flight announcements and what sound like newscasts, and an accompanying short film serves as a kind of tour diary. But what the album is really about is the kind of thoughtful, elegant house that's long been Peterkin's calling card. One might wish that he would stray from his comfort zone a bit more. But who can blame him for sticking with what he knows? After all, there are few producers today exploring the resonant possibilities of a signature sound so fully and beautifully.