rankfurt isn’t terribly far from Cologne and many people group Perlon and Kompakt into the same sub-set of dance music. But it’s hard to think of two more different labels occupying the same space in the record bin than those two giants of German techno. Kompakt’s Teutonic sheen is, at times, almost comically polished. There’s never a hair (or note) out of place. Perlon, on the other hand, thrives on mistakes, coincidence (or is that Ware?), and a bit of dirt.
There’s all of that and even a wink and a nod to KomPop on Perlon’s newest double-disc compilation, Superlongevity 4. Many of the tracks owe a heavy debt to the pioneering example of Villalobos, of course. While Baby Ford & Zip, Luciano, Kalabrese, Dimbiman, Matt John, and Horror Inc. each bring their own ideas to the table, without the template provided by the Chilean’s hand, these tracks might not exist in the form that they do. Baby Ford & Zip’s “Morning Sir,” for instance, smears the vocals of the track, echoing, delaying, and otherwise obfuscating until they become hallucinatory tendrils weaving their way in and out of the ever-present beat and bassline (something Ricardo did to stunning effect all throughout Alcachofa). Kalabrese’s masterful “Skamel,” similarly, sounds like a lost B-side from that same album.
The same can’t be said for the faint glimmers that color Dimbiman’s “First Laki” or Dandy Jack and Melchior’s contributions to the compilation, which find each further sketching out their particular sound. It’s Narcotic Syntax and Markus Nikolai, though, that provide the real surprises here. Narcotic comes with “Raptor’s Delight,” a breakbeat rap track that reminds of nothing less than a German-version of Gold Chains. Nikolai’s “Wheelsucker” is a house number that features straight-forward vocals in his imitable style with a twist.
For a label as large as Perlon, the only thing to try to do with these compilations (besides enjoy them) is to search for unifying threads. Back on earlier Superlongevity volumes, shredded voices figured more prominently—amplifying the prevailing feeling at the time that artists like Akufen were on to something. That time has passed and now the aforementioned Villalbosian dub basslines are in vogue. Next year, we might find ourselves with a number of producers jocking the oncoming prog train spearheaded by Minilogue. At its core, though, Perlon’s stable of artists have always remain committed to turning what is “in” to what is theirs. You can hear it in Matt John’s static laden “Landing,” Horror Inc.’s Music for Children B-side, and you can hear it in the weirdly awful Villalobos creation “Balacharde.” As long as there’s a Kompakt, there’ll always be Perlon to kick some soil over top.