Perfume Advert

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Deep Hedonia @ 24 Kitchen Street 25/5/16

Brought together by cassette tape-friendly labels, such as 1080p, Seagrave and Where To Know?, Deep Hedonia’s line-up of underground house producers offers a glimpse of more diverse and experimental forms of the house genre. Unlike most house sets you are likely to see, improvisation is a large part of the ethos of this particular event.

Opening to gestating pulses of muted dub-delay, Lisbon-born ONDNESS (Bruno Silva) navigates through a tension-filled, entirely melody-free set. Playing to an empty dancefloor, Silva is the one moving to the music the most, becoming the metronomic beacon for the room to follow. Favouring long, textural build-ups, the audience is most rewarded when Silva provides a rhythmic framework. Once the murky textures coalesce into a slinky hi-hat-driven, one-bar drum pattern, spectators on the fringes of the room start to show some movement. A few minutes into this pattern I couldn’t help but draw a line to James Brown’s most potent late 60s/early 70s work. Specifically, how the relationship between simplicity and repetition forms the key to an effective groove – something that you never want to stop and can’t stop feeling when it’s gone. The line between monotonous and hypnotic is navigated expertly here, something the headlining act would later struggle with.

BEST AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY’s set is well matched to the preceding one, joyfully chaotic, and at times disorienting, although still devoid of melody and anything resembling a human voice. BAT is Portland-based Kevin Palmer, a true experimentalist. The way he utilises his array of effects and samplers suggests a strong sense of control, despite how warped and lawless the result is. BAT could’ve delivered an equally masterful set with just a delay pedal and a Ham radio receiver. Often, the music seems to emanate from entirely different acoustic spaces, sometimes large industrial factories, a tiled bathroom or a stairwell. BAT’s ability to manipulate the perceived space seems to go beyond simply changing reverb settings. Instead, the music provides a portal to the pictures in your mind.

Middleborough duo PERFUME ADVERT – finally coaxing a few attendees onto the dancefloor – settle into much more familiar rhythmic territory. Given how respectively dynamic and fragmented the preceding sets were, Perfume Advert sound frustratingly common. Staying put at 120bpm, they meander through uninspired house tropes. A shame considering the more nuanced, and exciting take on atmospheric house they demonstrate on their debut 2013 effort, Tulpa. The sequencing in the duo’s set does not provide any revelatory moments, nor does it attempt to explore any alternate sonic territory. The presence of harmonic development, memorable syncopation, melody, or any expressive lead voice is largely eschewed, leaving a void that not even the duo’s improvisatory inclinations can fill.

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