Perc & Einstürzende Neubauten
People have been using the term “industrial techno” to descrive Ali Wells’ work as Perc (and more broadly his label PercTrax) for a while now, although the first word in that appellation is intended literally rather than a reference to the umbrella genre term. True, the music made by Wells and his associated acts has borne out some of the experimentalism and structural conceits of true school industrial, but it’s the mechanized and inhuman nature of their factory (or abattoir) music that seems like a better justification for its use as a descriptor. Cutting through those semantic concerns, Wells’ new EP finds him remixing dub versions of tracks lifted from Einstürzende Neubauten’s landmark 1981 release Kollaps, finding common ground between the aesthetics of the genre godfathers and his own work and exploiting it in intriguing ways.
In an interview with The Quietus Wells suggested one of the ways he got Neubauten on board with the project was by assuring them that he wasn’t looking to make club mixes of these songs or plunder their shredding metal sonics as sample fodder. True to his word, it’s difficult to imagine the 4 tracks from Interpretations on a dancefloor, even one attuned to harsh or severe sounds. While “Sado Masodub” is rhythmic, the clanging percussion and dusted atmosphere that echo into the listener’s ear as if from the far end of a drainage pipe don’t lend it club appeal. Rather each blown out and twisted blast of noise brings the track back further into itself, repeating and doubling up until the whole thing shakes itself to pieces. The side-A companion piece “Rivieradub” takes the same approach on a more drawn out arrangement, starting with a high pitched whine and a pounding drum that builds until the song veritably bursts at the seams like a boiler self-destructing to void internal pressure.
The flip of the 12″ is a touch less manic although certainly not mellow. In the EP’s most Neubauten-like moment, “Liebesdub” dials back the brutality and allows liberal use of spring reverb (standing in for EN’s beloved hammered spring percussion) to fill the gaps between the distant washes of static and sub-bass as they come ashore. “Lunebest” even approaches an ugly musicality of sorts, taking the occasional bursts of keyboard and allowing them to temporarily rise above the fray before getting dragged back under. The song amounts to a reverse-engineered version of power noise, albeit one which has been rendered down and reconstituted until it can’t quite maintain the form it’s been beaten into by Wells. It’s by far one of the ugliest and cruelest things to be released in 2013 and an excellent summation of Intepretations; Perc handily translates the visceral audio experimentalism of early Neubauten via his own toolset, but never once does it feel as though he’s forcing himself or his creative persona into the picture. As a project this is purely about providing perspectives and reflections of the source material from across a few decades of musical history. In that, it’s a success. Good stuff.