- Perlon's resident rocker gets even weirder.
- In Andrew Ryce's review of 2017's US Drag, he said that the artist best known as Bruno Pronsato (real name Steven Ford) had begun to take a "lateral move away from the dance floor." Instrumental in shaping and defining the minimal and microhouse sound of the early '00s, Ford spent two decades perfecting an airy and organic approach to understated dance music. But lately, Ford has continued moving laterally, embracing jazz, modern classical and avant-garde electronics (as he did on US Drag) while also returning to his roots, mining post-punk and indie on projects like Archangel (he is after all, a former speed metal drummer). Spread across two discs, Do It At Your Funeral brings together these influences, reevaluating the experimental possibilities of minimal. The result is a record that holds some of his most beautiful, strangest tracks to date.
Ford has a rock & roll edge in the way he approaches songwriting. This might be down to the fact that, as he explained in 2014, he's always harbored ambitions to be a rock star. We get a taste of this on album highlight "Ode To Street Hassle." The track is a cover of Spacemen 3 and showcases everything Ford does well: the rhythms are intricate and shifting, the bizarro sounds are appropriately psychedelic and Benjamin Freeney's delivery of the lyrics is muffled and druggy. It's a cover of the highest order. This is what "Ode To Street Hassle" might have sounded like if Peter Kember and Jason Pierce wrote it after returning home at 3 PM from a Get Perlonized! party.
Even if only "Ode To Street Hassle" adopts a traditional rock structure, the rock & roll flavor comes across in other moments on Do It At Your Funeral. "With Daze"—a collaboration with Hello? Repeat boss Daze Maxim—has a sludgy pool hall grit to it, with rhythms clanking under the watchful eye of a pulsing synth. And on "Version You," Pronsato brushes his snares with the force of a techno producer laying down kick drums. The song ups the tension with the squeak of tennis shoes running across a basketball court before climaxing in a heart-racing breakdown.
There are still tracks on here that are the stuff Bar25 lore is made of. The only proper drum on "Do It At Your Funeral" is a squiggly clap that comes in and out of focus. But every other element—from the vocal snippet to the washboard-esque synth loop—adds to the percussive density. "Vampire Locals" is a bit jazzier, with snares appearing like sunspots alongside a xylophone that creates a hedge maze of rhythms. The most exciting part, however, is when Ford trots out some new ideas. "Catching Lisbon" is one of the record's prettiest tracks as the pads quiver with a tear-welling intensity and a heartbreaking melody played on what sounds like a liuqin. "Best Before Benj" is another curveball, drawing out the bass notes to give it a hip-hop swagger.
The variety on display across the two discs did leave me wondering: was this an LP or an EP? That is, without much of a narrative arc, Do It At Your Funeral feels closer to a collection of tracks rather than a unified album. And while the record isn't anything like a set of DJ tools, these are still dance tracks, just written in the key of Pronsato. In 2019, Ford put out a live album recorded in Tokyo. Listening to that recording, you can see how the music he is making here is still dance music, albeit of a different type. This is music aimed not at our guts, but for the headiser selectors willing to venture deep down the cerebral rabbit hole. There is no one as good as Ford at creating strange sonic spaces and endless labyrinths of unexpected sounds for our neurons to get lost in.
A1 Catching Lisbon
A2 Do It At Your Funeral
B1 Local Vampires
B2 Version You
C1 With Daze
C2 Isn't Measured Isn't Managed
D1 Best Before Benj
D2 Ode To Street Hassle feat. Benjamin Freeney
D3 Simenon Briefly