Peep the gully way that I walk” - Gangstarr ‘The Ownerz’
Perlon is special. This label is revered not because they helped invent the genre of minimal as we now know it (and make no mistake, today’s scene would have been impossible without this label and these producers); it’s revered because Perlon continually delivers surprises and music with real depth.
A lot of dance music tries to be atmospheric or even hallucinatory, but the atmosphere is often akin to being fucked up on drugs in a club and the hallucinations invoke the standard bunch of flashing lights and gyrating bodies. ‘Superlongevity 4’ is different, and its palette is vast in comparison. It’s not always strictly dancefloor material, but if you love house music for more than just its functional attributes that shouldn’t matter.
The spellbinding ‘Ixchel’ by Dandy Jack conjures up driftwood shacks on deserted beaches – you could close your eyes and feel your body caressed by cool seawater, the bassline like the steady ebb and flow of the tide. This is followed by ‘Skamel’ from Kalabrese which brings to mind sailing lazily between Pacific islands on a homemade balsawood raft to the sounds of creaking wood and the gentle rock of its melody (the album is beautifully sequenced with many tracks having a thematic link to those on either side).
By the time we reach the extraordinary ‘Darkstar’ by Stefan Goldmann, the sea has been left far behind. With drum patterns recalling a pre-war New Orleans jazz band playing on and on to a backroom party that never ends, ‘Darkstar’ is grubby and sexy in an utterly unexpected way, and all the more delightful for it.
I suspect only Ricardo Villalobos himself knows what ‘Balacharde’ is supposed to evoke. The Chilean weirdo outdoes himself on this one, throwing snatches of flamenco guitar into an utterly bizarre cut-up groove that reminds me slightly of Smith ‘n Hack.
Which brings us to one of the album’s most delightfully eccentric moments – ‘Raptor’s Delight’ from Narcotic Syntax is a love song crossed with the myth of Prometheus, the Titan punished for stealing fire from the gods: the bounce of the groove and the soar of the lyrics ‘I dream of eagles, talons rampant, sharp as love’ cause a delightful confusion in the listener. Not to mention the head-melting guitar breakdown two thirds of the way through.
There isn’t space here to go into all the other great moments on this album – Dimbiman, Matt John and, in particular, Soulphiction turn in nice percussive tracks in trademark Perlon style that are sure to move the floor, although the offerings from Luciano and Melchior Productions are a bit disappointing. Markus Nikolai, as always, provides a witty touch with ‘Wheelsucker’, probably the most energetic track here.
I must however draw attention to ‘The Abstent’ by Horror Inc (aka Akufen) which closes the album. Breaking new ground for this artist, the track is a soft waterfall of flowing guitar and floating strings with the slightest hint of a beat providing direction but not momentum. ‘The Abstent’ is truly lovely and returns us to the water theme, making me think of river pools in summertime, surrounded by placid cows, reefer in hand.