Perc Trax - Slowly Exploding

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  • Over the last few years, Ali Wells, the English techno artist better known as Perc, has been instrumental in leading techno's march further into the dark side. His solo work has been creeping closer to the EBM and industrial music he loves so much, and with his second album, The Power & The Glory, he essentially reverse-engineered the technoise sound. His Perc Trax label and its stable of artists have followed in his footsteps, and with Slowly Exploding, Wells takes a step back and allows the rest of the roster their chance to thrash and writhe. Slowly Exploding has one disc of new material and another with a mix from Wells. Each serves a very different purpose. Many tracks on the first disc are so stiff and imposing that it's hard to imagine them on a dance floor at all. As a result, the mixed disc feels almost instructive: rocketing through 23 tracks in just over an hour, it shows just how powerful this stuff can be in the right hands. There's not much breathing room, and the close quarters give it the claustrophobic feel Wells has been perfecting. But the idea isn't just to bash your head in: brighter textures come from Forward Strategy Group and Go Hiyama. The closing section carefully lets off the pressure, finishing with Perc's dissolute "Before I Go," but not before lifting things with the forthcoming Exaltics remix of Drax's 1994 trance classic "Phosphen." While a little more streamlined, the collection of new tracks also emphasizes the crew's diversity. The acid rainfall of Martyn Hare's "The New Normal" is so outsized that it barely feels like techno. Drvg Culture's "(I Don't Want To Die In) James Franco's House" is a frightening military march that recalls Front 242. Mick Finesse & Pinion's "Dead Boyfriend Alley" throws drum breaks into the mix, while Perc's remix of Clouds' "Dread Networks" is a dance floor monster with filter sweeps as disorienting as sudden changes in air pressure. Even music this deadly serious isn't immune to fun, self-aware dance floor clichés. It's the least self-serious moments that work the best on Slowly Exploding. Based around a single high-pitched chord, Sawf's "Groves" is speed-addled debauchery, but its carefully cultivated sense of space makes for a respite from the LP's opening offensive. Perhaps even simpler, Truss's "Brockweir" stands out as the compilation's highlight, primarily because it's so well put together. With its gruff countenance and rough-around-the-edges swing, it captures the punkish attitude of his collaborations with Wells, but here it's hammered into more friendly shapes, doing away with the macho and bringing in some groove. Slowly Exploding is a nuanced collection that embodies Perc's balance of existential dread and dance floor euphoria.
  • Tracklist
      CD1: New Tracks 01. Drvg Cvltvre - (I Don't Want To Die In) James Franco's House 02. Happa - To Die Hating Them 03. Truss - Brockweir 04. Sawf - Groves 05. Perc - Hyperlink 06. Martyn Hare - The New Normal 07. Forward Strategy Group - Dragon's Tooth 08. Clouds - Dread Networks (Perc Remix) 09. Mick Finesse & Pinion - Dead Boyfriend Alley 10. Perc - Volley 11. Kareem - Just When You Thought It Was Over CD2: Mixed by Perc 01. Perc - Pre-Steel 02. Sawf - Outhro 03. Go Hiyama - Postmodern (Lucy Remix) 04. Sawf - Sfika 05. Mick Finesse & Pinion - Dead Boyfriend Alley 06. Perc - My Head Is Slowly Exploding (Ancient Methods Remix) 07. Forward Strategy Group - Nihil Novi (Factory Floor FFGG remix) 08. Sawf - Goves 09. Perc - Hyperlink 10. Forward Strategy Group – Elegant Mistakes 11. Truss - Brockweir 12. Yuji Kondo – Lose The Ability To Understand 13. Truss – Ganymede (Perc Remix) 14. Truss - Hackney 15. Sawf – Vavasofa (Perc Remix) 16. Dead Sound & Videohead - Trapped 17. Clouds – Dread Networks (Perc Remix) 18. Perc – Take Your Body Off 19. Martyn Hare - The New Normal 20. Justin Berkovi – Backshredding (Forward Strategy Group Remix) 21. Perc & Truss – Van Der Valk 22. Drax – Phosphene (The Exaltics Remix) 23. Perc – Before I Go