"Breakbeat is back in hype these days but too often turns out to be a clumsy caricature of '90s rave music. Here, it is the starting point to a bolder, futuristic drum-propelled composition."
With just two releases under their belt in 2018, Perko’s ‘NV Auto‘ and ‘Local Guide‘ from North City Dialect – both focused on exploring meditative paths, Scottish imprint Numbers took an unusual shift of direction, especially striking for a label that distinguished itself over the years by releasing quirky and innovative house and techno records. Still, ‘NV Auto’ sounds fresh in a way that’s somehow true to the Glaswegian label’s DNA and has consistent elements for it to be considered one of this year’s finest debut releases.
The album comes from Perko, a 23 year-old producer living between two vivid musical hotspots: Copenhagen and Glasgow. The only previous appearance of his we can find a trace of is an edit of Sergio Mendes ‘Magalenha’, which drove Facebook music identification groups crazy over the past months, up until it finally got released on Nathan Micay’s label, Schvitz Edits, last June.
‘NV Auto’ is split in two parts, randomly distributed across the track list: one made of three UK sound-system influenced cuts, vaguely dance floor oriented (only ‘Songbirds’ entirely belongs to the domain of techno), and the other consisting in as many ambient works, built out of field recordings and intangible atmospheres.
‘Rounded’, the album’s most anticipated track, is a lush summer anthem larded with ’90s UKG accents. A fine mix of breaks and distorted chords creates a joyful and nostalgic feeling, interrupted at irregular intervals by prolonged and skittish drums that breath tension and dynamism into the track. Breakbeat is back in hype these days but too often turns out to be a clumsy caricature of ’90s rave music. Here, it is the starting point to a bolder, futuristic drum-propelled composition.
Shifting to a slightly gloomier vibe whilst preserving a similar sound signature and taste for innovation and recreation, ‘What Otters’ makes for a nice nod to dub techno with its delayed drums, progressively blending in with a minimal, tight-laced bass that won’t fail at evoking some well-known 2-step garage classics.
The EP reaches its most elegant and inventive peak on ‘Grace’. Field recordings and windy FX are interspersed with relentless cowbells whilst, as in ‘Rounded‘, low-freq shifts flex along changing elements, gathering all their power and violence through a few crucial chokepoints. On ‘Polly’ Perko displays further evidence of his brilliant use of recycled melodic tropes and influences. After a minute-long intro, a noisey ascending bass takes the leading role, letting snares and field recordings rumble in the background, slowly but surely enriching the track with precious details.
Available as a digital bonus exclusively, ‘Water Memory’ loops the loop with a pointillistic ballad, similar in essence to the opener, ‘Sky Host’. Differing from the rest of the EP in this that it does not openly relies on low-ends but is instead linked to it by a sense of ingenious simplicity, the track adds further variety to an already tasteful and multi-hued album – giving ‘NV Auto’ an even more long-lasting power of diffusion.
‘NV Auto’ is out now via Numbers, order a copy from Bandcamp.
1. Sky Host
3. What Otters
7. Water Memory (digital)