Review : Various Artists - Superlongevity 5
ResidentadvisorExtending back to 1997, Perlon cemented its reputation by developing one of the foundational templates for the minimalism that would dominate so much of house and techno music in the early to mid-'00s. In fact, other than the stern black canvas techno of Richie Hawtin's Minus or the puffier, more melodic Kompakt, perhaps no other label offered up as formidable a hit-to-miss ratio during the era as Zip and Markus Nikolai's Frankfurt stalwart. Besides the nuggets presented on the unmixed Superlongevity 3 and 4 comps and 12-inches by artists like STL, Luciano and Kalabrese, the label unveiled a series of formative full-lengths during the period from Ricardo Villalobos' The Au Harem D'Archimede and Ark's Caliente to Dandy Jack and the Junctions' Los Siete Castigos and, later, Melchior Productions' No Disco Future.
With the deep space atmospherics and intricate sound assembly of the era's minimalism giving way to heartier house and big-boned warehouse techno, however, there's an obvious temptation to wonder about the future of Perlon. Last year's full-lengths by Ark and Wareikaóboth quite goodóbarely imprinted on the dance music consciousness. Admittedly, it appears to be an aesthetic in severe popular decline (to which certain discogs bitching attests). And yet for those of us who've always nourished a love for the restrained textures of the period, the word that Perlon would finally return with its first compilation since 2006's fourth edition in the Superlongevity series was most welcome.
Unlike the last two editions, the CD version of Superlongevity 5 is mixed by label head Zip, who deftly melds tracks from long-time associates like Baby Ford, Matt John and Thomas Melchior with tag-team efforts by Half Hawaii (Bruno Pronsato and Sammy Dee), Pantytec (Zip and Sammy Dee) and Narcotic Syntax (Zip, Markus Nicolai, Uwe Giegler and James Dean Brown). Much like Michael Mayer, though, with perhaps a bit more overlapping, Zip's mixing emphasizes the tracks as stand-alone productions rather than segues within a greater body. The result is two discs assembling twenty-eight exclusive tracks of the label's heady percolations, and a hit-to-miss ratio in line with the label's heyday....full text
PitchforkThe Berlin-based Perlon label is one of the titans of the last decade of electronic music, but if their name doesn't ring out like Kompakt or Warp (or Hyperdub), it's mostly because they don't want it to. The label has a strictly-for-aficionados air about it, not least because their idea of how to present a big release constitutes "releasing a CD version" (the label's wares are often vinyl-only and they mostly stay away from digital). As of this writing, the label's website is still a giant Flash animation alerting you that Perlon.com is "Opening Imminently." Breath: bated.
Perlon's Superlongevity series has served as a clearinghouse for the label in the past, often collecting bushels of their 12"-only singles. The middle volumes can stand tall next to Kompakt's Total 3 and Total 4 as essential documents of 2000s techno-- specifically minimal, the hypnotic, spare house offshoot that dominated DJ decks and established Germany as the center of the electronic music world. Perlon's relative obscurity is due partly as well to prolonged silences from some of its bigger artists: Ricardo Villalobos, Melchior Productions, and STL have all quieted down or moved their releases elsewhere. (Shackleton's Three EPs was the label's last release to gain any traction outside dance circles.) So Superlongevity 5 represents a pretty substantial release for the label, not just because it revives a dormant brand name, but because it offers new music from the artists above as well as from standbys like Baby Ford, Kalabrese, and Shackleton.
Keeping to form, Superlongevity 5 is offered as a mix of new or unreleased material spread across two CDs (a limited seven-record vinyl box set was also made available). As a mix, it differs substantially from a stone-skipping DJ set: the tracks are presented in large chunks, usually between five and six minutes, which not only gives each track plenty of room to breathe and develop but also obviates the need to hear "full" versions for all but the compulsive. Always the slightly sillier cousin to the starker Kompakt, Perlon has only gotten wilier since their heyday. Superlongevity 5 is bursting with weird mantras ("Just being tape!" from Matt John's "The Tapedeckers"), tropical horns (Kalabrese's "The 2010 Kitchen Session"), and rubbery rhythms (everything, really). Dandy Jack's lounge disco "Show You My Tent" actually chuckles at itself throughout (or at me?). San Proper's "Lady Cop" is a funky noir that features samples of dialogue from "The Wire"'s beloved Kima Greggs....full text
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