Review: Native New Yorker Adam "X" Mitchell has long been a fan of collaboration, with a long list previous sparring partners including Ancient Methods, Navario Suaro and, of course, his brother Frankie Bones. For Mutiny & Disorder, he's joined forces again with fellow techno veteran Alistair "Perc" Wells. The duo begin in typically retro-futurist fashion on "Mutiny", whose rising and falling synth lines, dense beats and clanking hits recall the early days of Roman techno. The "back-to-the-future" feel continues with the warped riffs, spacey electronics, apocalyptic textures, surging sub-bass and thunderous rhythms of flipside workout "Disorder".
Review: Bitter Music is Ali Wells's third studio album and manages the rare feat of combining experimentation with a focus on the dance floor. It means that the husky, breathy vocals and found sound ambience of "Exit" and the spooky tones of "Wax Apple" both sit next to the panel-beating techno of "Unelected" - possibly another one of Wells' political references - the eerie, rumbling drums of "Chatter" and the low slung menace of "I Just Can't Win". On other occasions, Wells articulates his ability to straddle both worlds in one arrangement, audible on the deeply disturbing shrieks of Aja Ireland over the gnarly rhythm of "Spit" or the tape dub cut up groove of "Rat Run". Ali Wells has matured as an artist but as Bitter Music shows, in the process he has lost none of his bile-laced anger.
Review: Probably the highest praise for artists of a certain dispostion is that it's impossible for their audiences to tell whether they are being serious or simply taking the piss. This kind of ambiguity is prevalent among all the great alternative artists from New Order/Joy Division, The Fall and Throbbing Gristle to Larry Levan, Regis and Shed. Perc is moving close to being part of this hallowed group and Brutality suceeds in pushing him a few steps nearer. Much of this is due to the title track and the questions it asks the listener. Are those tones at the start a sample of the TV test card or Perc fiddling with an insane frequency? Is Perc trying to reach Al Jourgensen-like levels of outlandishness wth the grungy, industrial beats and is that the sound of a torture victim's screams or just deranged, feedback noise? On "Cash 4 Gold", the questions continue, the uncertainty lingers. Is Perc satirising Britain's army of Vicki Pollards or has he presented the listener with the hopelessness and desparation of working class life in modern-day England? Certainly amid the grubby, twisted broken beats it is almost possible to smell the stale chip oil mixed with the bang of overflowing ashtrays and unwashed armpits - is it funny, tragic or just fact? Then he delivers two great contrasts: "Boy" is a visceral affair, its drums torn apart, the jarring riffs screeching in and the bass grainy and brutal. It's nasty, and disturbing, and the polar opposite of the final track, "Before I Go". Penned ostensibly as a farewell to this world and an escape from its brutality, its muffled piano sounds and beautiful but indistinct strings could be the sonic interpretation of someone slipping out of consciousness and departing this world. Then again, it could just be Ali Wells having a drunken laugh. We may never know - and that sums up the beauty of Brutality.
Review: As the man behind the long-running Perc Trax label, Ali Wells has had a considerable part to play in shaping the landscape of UK techno. His debut album Wicker & Steel, released in 2011, was only his first full-length in a decade of producing, but the influence both it and the curation of his label had was wide ranging, prefiguring the revival for a harder, more industrial aesthetic in techno which emerged in the following years. The Power & The Glory is Wells' second album, and is a significantly more ambitious statement than its predecessor, combining his obvious appreciation of the experimental noise sound coming from the US underground with the pounding floor-focused rave bangers he's well known for. Quite simply, Wells has raised the techno bar once again.
Review: These remixes of tracks from Ali Wells' second album are fittingly intense. Tessela's take on "Take Your Body Off" sounds like it is crashing through the speakers. Coruscating riffs screech and howl over broken beats and death rattle drums are intertwined with unidentifiable squals and shrieks. Untold's take on "Bleeding Colours" is meaner and faster. At its centre is a buzzing bass, one that infiltrates and gradually takes over the slamming, high-paced techno rhythm. It feels like being strapped to the bonnet of a Formula One car as it whizzes through lap upon lap. Finally, there's Clouds' take on "Dumpster". Slower and more teased out than the other remixes, its murky bass and panel beating dums are nonetheless laden with a sense of dread that Perc's own work also contains.
Review: Ali Wells aka Perc delivers a defiant come back release that is designed to call out those famous names who have made career as recording artists despite never venturing into the studio. "Toxic NRG" is 100% Perc, with a central riff that spits out acid fury over murderous kicks and an industrial rhythm. "Driller" is even more intense, with Wells fusing gabba drums with volleys of coruscating percussion to achieve a track that's the sonic equivalent of being hit over the head with a sledgehammer. Rounding off the release is the loopy builds and drops of "Pivot", another visceral, peak-time roller that will also expose the frauds and chancers.
Review: There's something more than a little unsettling about the cover image for Perc's latest release which finds the producer's face covered in what looks like porridge. In some ways, it's rather fitting, because the EP itself - like much of Alistair Wells' output - is similarly hard to handle. The single's final track, "Change To" - a cacophonous fusion of distortion, scattergun hits and garbled voices - sounds like his vision of the end of days. Of course, few are quite as accomplished when it comes to creating raw, bleak, intense techno, and its' these moments - particularly the industrial motifs, aggressive electronics and thumping beats of "Gruel" - that make Gob a must-have.
Review: This second set of remixes from Perc's recent album begins in stark contrast to the first series. EP02 gets under way with the frenetic, tribal groove and trance stabs of Dax J's take on "Unelected". The tempo drops again for Lucy's take on "Wax Apple". In the Italian producer's hands, it turns into a stepping rhythm shot through with mysterious textures and drones. Changing course once again is Matrixxman with his interpretation of "Rat Run". While the US producer doesn't take away any of Perc's grit and grime, he does use a nickel-plated, percussive backing track to make his remix sound like it was recorded in a Chicago warehouse.
The Thought That Counts (Head Front Panel remix) - (7:26) 133 BPM
Chatter (Hodge remix) - (5:56) 129 BPM
Exit (Pessimist remix) - (7:30) 86 BPM
I Just Can't Win (Dale Cornish remix) - (6:17) 120 BPM
Review: In this first volume of remixes, Ali Wells gathers an impressive cast to rework tracks from his Bitter Music album. First up is John Heckle's Head Front Panel project, which turns Perc's "The Thought That Counts" into an intense, dense techno groover, led by intricate riffs and tones. By contrast, Hodge's take on "Chatter" is loose and free-flowing, underpinned by massive, dubbed out drums and a rhythm that sways and swerves in all the right places. Pessimist's take on "Exit" pushes the release back towards the opaque and, in this instance, mysterious, thanks to its shadowy drones. Last but certainly not least is Dale Cornish with a superb, stuttering minimal house take on "I Just Can't Win".
Review: Featuring vocals from UK electronic artist Gazelle Twin, Perc's ''Look What Your Love Has Done To Me" has gone from a vocal experiment to a certified classic and the biggest selling track in the history of his label. Originally released as part of the Bitish artist's 'Bitter Music' LP in 2017, the track has grown in support organically, allowing it time to take on a life of its own. Now in 2019 the track lives on with these killer reworks by some of the scene's biggest names. Ascendant Belgian Amelie Lens delivers a barrelling peak time perspective that lunges straight for the jugular, label regular I Hate Models delivers a typically frantic and hyperware rework sure to throw you against the wall and the man himself Perc reloads the track directly off the factory floor in pitch black and austere fashion.
Review: Having already established one sub-label in Perc Trax Ltd, Ali Wells further expands the remit of his Perc operation further with the first release on his Submit label dedicated to experimental music. Arriving with the following mission statement, "Analogue, digital, laptop, modular, field recordings, circuit-bent, vocal, and every sound source is welcome. No format, recording technology, musician, producer or band is outside of the label's horizon," it's clear Submit will have a pretty broad approach, and as debut releases go this is quite the affair. The works of celebrated German industrial act Einsturzende Neubauten the focus of attention here as Perc presents his own take on four tracks from the group's LP Kollaps. The results bear comparison with the hard edged abstracted approach of contemporary Phillitronics (Metasplice, Great Circle) and the battered, primitive electronics of CHBB though the enduring feeling is this EP proves once more how vital Perc is.
Review: This is Perc and Truss' first collaborative release in two years, but it does not feel like they have been absent at all. "Subox" hits the listener straight between the eyes with its pounding industrial beats, shrill tones and acrid acid lines. "Badman" is less direct and shows that the pair are not afraid to experiment as a menacing bass underscores deranged tones and mysterious, dissected vocals. However, probably the biggest surprise is the title track. Couched in a standard Perc/Truss backing track is a pumping, throbbing bass that sounds like E-Dancer transposed to a European techno setting. The last time this was attempted with such a degree of success was Laurent Garnie's Sound of the Big Babou, but Perc and Truss have gone even further because listen carefully and it sounds like they have sampled the vocal from Saunderson's remake of Esser's "Forces".
Review: The second release for Perc Trax LTD is the first direct collaboration between friends Ali "Perc" Wells and Tom "Truss" Russell. Once again Adult Art Club's Jonny Costello has been called on contribute the art and Spiker looks as distinctive as any previous Perc Trax commission from Costello, whilst the three tracks within are a dynamic, potent combination of both producers' heavy hitting sonics. A particular highlight is the climbing rave chords and peaking acidics of "Clapacid", while the ear piercing title track and rolling "Broken" offer all the hallmarks of the fierce and industrial sounds of UK industrial techno.
Review: The tenth anniversary of Perc Trax has provided its owner Ali 'Perc' Wells with the opportunity to release his first ever commercial mix. Using a lot of his own material as well as some smart selections from the label, including Factory Floor's remix of Forward Strategy Group, Wells acquits himself skillfully. However, it's this collection of unreleased material that really stands out. Veering from Happa and Truss' stomping, distorted techno and the Magnetic North-style kicks of Perc's "Hyperlink" to the frazzled broken beats of Forward Strategy Group and Mick Finesse & Pinion's tracks, it also features the cavernous acid of Drvg Cvltvre's "(I Don't Want To Die In) James Franco's House" and the shock-horror rave stabs of Sawf's "Goves". There's no doubt about it - Perc Trax is celebrating its first decade in typically raucous style.
Review: The only question that arises from this collaborative release is: why did it take so long? As this split release shows, Perc's label and Oscar Mulero's Pole Group share a lot of common ground, but the key difference is that the UK operation has an underlying grittiness. This is evident on the sweeping chords and grinding rhythms of Sawf's "Trivoli" and Perc's "405", the latter a stomping, slamming affair led by distorted kicks and a ferocious, militaristic rhythm. By contrast, the Pole Group material is more considered. Reeko's "Recharger" is a drummy affair led by a tapestry of hissing percussion, while Christian Wunsch's "Alpha Particle" is a deep space serving of alien, acid-led techno.
Review: Oscar Mulero's other label celebrates its fifth anniversary with this mammoth compendium. For fans of the Spanish imprint's club techno there is no shortage of material to get excited about; the Lewis Fautzi remix of Exium's "Nucleoid" is a hypnotic groove par excellence, its confluence of acid and droning pulses arcing to a tantalising climax, while Christian Wunsch and Exium once again represent the tough industrial and dub-meets-noise sound of the label on "Emission Lines" and "Biolag" respectively. However, there is also a more musical, reflective side to Poelgroup's sound. In this regard, 5 Years delivers most impressively with the chilling strings of the Architectural project from Reeko as well as the Spanish producer's cinematic, break beat-led reshape of Jonas Kopp's "M31".