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Slowly Exploding: 10 Years Of Perc Trax Harry Sword , January 6th, 2015 17:30

Perc Trax has been one of the most consistently storied ships to navigate the wild winds of techno this past decade; a veritable galleon, groaning to the gills with wild audio bounty from all corners. But while those who have born witness to label boss Ali 'Perc' Wells conducting one of his piratical seek and destroy missions may be forgiven for thinking that the label aims canons squarely for the floor, the reality has been a far more expansive picture.

Be it grinding gear ('A New Brutality'), or the broken jitters (ASC and Mondkopf), full on improvisational quackery (Ekoplekz) or acid influenced tracks (Matt Whitehead, Truss), Perc Trax has always focussed on a broad and expansive view of what techno is – and, more importantly, what it can be. Of course, that is not to say that music of a more purist bent has not featured in the catalogue too (it has) - but never by numbers - and on this ten year celebratory compilation, Perc selects an entirely new selection of tracks for the first CD before mixing some tested favourites on the second. Dvug Cvltvre open CD 1 with '(I Don't Want To Die In) James Franco's House', a thwacking dose that hinges on a reverb laden kick in combination with squiggly acid bass. It has a pleasing Hammer Horror vibe - dark camp, essentially - creakily unfolding like some dry parchment map to an unknown tomb in an HP Lovecraft short story.

Happa, meanwhile, impresses with one of the hardest tracks on the compilation, a roasted and well rendered slab of smashed to smithereens freakery with a bright yellow tablespoon of English Mustard on the side. 'To Die Hating Them' is corroded and distorted as you like, but the balanced mix cuts through the grease with the efficiency of a numbed butcher, thirty years into the game.   Forward Strategy Group released one of the few LP's that have been released on the label (2012's excellent 'Labour Division') and continue in their tradition of cinematic and linear groove with 'Dragons Tooth'. Their music has always exercised restraint and refinement, and they work it here with expert hands: hiss, tick and steady throb. Perc himself represents with 'Volley' an experimental foray into a, well, volleying wall of reverb and distortion while Kareem – surely one of the most underrated artists in techno – closes with a display of slow building tension in 'Just when you thought it was over', encroaching green fog and trawler signal bleeps.

The second CD sees Perc put together a selection of label favourites in typically energetic fashion, deploying his skewed sleight of hand magik - a queasily unbalanced disruption of straight up ruffige that is often the hallmark of his DJ sets. Highlights abound: the amen driven sludge of Mick Finesse and Pinions 'Dead Boyfriend Alley'; the dread dub of Ancient Methods remix of 'My Head Is Slowly Exploding'; the rhythmically obtuse bounce of the Factory Floor rework of Forward Strategy Groups 'Nihil Novi', a tune that plays with volleying kicks and odd 'walking' bass.

Indeed, Perc is one of few DJs who can play (very) hard, while retaining a consistent sense of narrative drive and - more perplexingly - grace. And here lies the rub. Perc Trax has consistently put out music that has clattered and banged like an untethered gate in a Lake District gale while remaining as slippery and vital as Jake The Poachers' live eels. Slowly Exploding marks a concrete ordinance landmark in the musical arena of the unwell.

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