The Power And The Glory

In 1982 Werner Herzog made a film called Fitzcarraldo. It told the story of a maniacal 19th century rubber baron trying to pull a steamship over a hill in the Peruvian jungle; a tale of psychotic frontier folly, claustrophobic in the extreme. Herzog declared it essential to the production to move a real ship using similar methods – and no special effects – on location, driving cast and crew nearly insane in the process.

Perc’s masterful new LP The Power And The Glory is imbued with a similarly sinewy air of artistic grunt – a marshalling of chaotic audio forces that threaten to implode at any moment. It’s a balancing act that totally disrupts the slick hydraulic tick of much modern techno, reveling in imperfection and coating much of the base elements in a warm swell of distortion that is both physically enveloping and mentally disorientating.

And while at this point the tropes surrounding Ali Wells’ 2011 debut LP Wicker And Steel – namely that it sounded (very) British, fused noise and industrial signifiers with techno to thrilling effect, and worked beautifully as a full album – are well enough worn, The Power And The Glory takes an even longer view than its predecessor, revealing hidden intricacies with each listen. The influence of industrial and EBM is present in its feeling of abrasiveness, but these beats swing hard, and are often swollen with a drunken funk that speaks equally of jungle played through a redlined system: of scattershot beats being pushed way beyond capacity; of body music taking on sentient thought and rampaging over the means of control, through the limiters and off the grid.

‘Rotting Sound’ leads with radio static, disconnected noise and a sampled interview snippet, amongst which comes the following voice: ”I think a lot of the best things happen like that… starting out either as a joke or whatever… and those things kind of stick, you get used to them, fall in love with those rotten sounds that don’t belong”.

"Rotten sounds" – not noise for the sake of noise; rogue elements, shards of focused wrongness; a nineteenth century anarchist faction plotting dissent in some stinking Thameside alehouse while decrepit trawlers creak past in the pissing rain. It’s an approach brought into focus on ‘Speek’. A wall of white noise quickly breached by sub-laden kicks, elements coming and going at strange junctures that lend a queasy lucidity to the whole track, strange orchestral stabs and the incessant stutter of the beat. Nik Colk Void lends her highly processed vocal to the piece, an oscillated robotic call that echoes over the mix.

‘Lurch’ is aptly named, a muted slab of barely covered malevolence that staggers around the room like a shore leave squaddie on a small town piss-up, distorted bassline pumping away through the breach. ‘Galloper’, meanwhile, offers deliverance in the form of bittersweet hardcore signifiers that say more about ‘rave memory’ and synapse trickery than any number of tepid amen workouts currently doing the rounds: off kilter stabs, the odd break snippet, and doleful melody at the bottom of the mix. Perc nails that feeling of loose – and slightly panicked – musical progress that was at the heart of 1993 darkcore/jungle without giving way to twee homage or neatly packaged nostalgia. Assuredly warehouse, and pleasingly warped.

A nightmare of fraggle-toothed elements that seem to laugh and caw from afar (the title alludes to our friends at Nos. 10 and 11…), ‘David And George’ sets strange vibrato sounds sawing against the mix. The track threatens to break into a full on techno monster at around the three minute mark. It never does – the disjointed voice just keeps laughing, as the bassline is thoroughly doused in crooked hiss. The release never comes, a constant prod in the guts.

Hypothetical prod morphs to full-force sucker-punch with ‘Dumpster’, a fully visceral techno moment. It sounds for all the world like Robert Hood being taken on the lash by DJ Rush and put on the plane to Rotterdam, before being let loose upon some rapidly rigged desk the next morning. Pounding, utterly glorious stuff; classic techno prognostics layered til they sound like they’re going to physically burst. ‘Take Your Body Off’ is wilder still, taking a borderline gabba aesthetic and running with it. A brutal exercise in maniacal excess – what The Daily Mail may have feared ‘rave’ music sounded like in 1991 – it makes use of guttural screams, rumbling kicks and reverberating snares.

The Power And The Glory: a pinpoint-focused derailing of the rotten apple cart, a masterpiece of the hard arts.

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