I, probably like many other metal heads in the world, got into Perturbator aka James Kent, via the “Dangerous Days” album released in 2014 which for me was a chance listen when browsing the Blood Music bandcamp pages just sampling what the label had to offer and I was intrigued by the music. I bought that album on CD and played it constantly and subsequently I bought the entire back catalogue on vinyl but this latest EP is the first time reviewing any music by Perturbator. Kent’s background is common knowledge so I won’t be covering that but what has changed with this release is marked, gone has the neon, retro, scantily clad cover art styling in favour of a monochrome industrial landscape. Perturbator’s music has been lumped into the synthwave movement that has spread across the world and whilst that tag as generic as it is may be valid Perturbator’s music is far removed from that world and in some sense an antithesis to the principles of the dance culture it appeals to generally.
Conceptually this new EP is based on an omnipotent artificial intelligence from conception through to its domination via six tracks of obsidian dystopian electronica that begins with “Birth Of The New Model”. Its opening dulcet tones are sprinkled gently before the pulsing beat is added. Kent’s ability in creating lavish songs with multiple layers of synthesizer are unsurpassed as the opener takes on a sinister tone with each passing second that leads succinctly into “Tactical Precision Disarray”. Perturbator’s music has always had a darker ambience and that tenebrous nature floods into full focus here underpinned by a slow mechanised but precision beat that is purposeful and deliberate.
“Vantablack” (a substance of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays and is one of the darkest artificial substances known) is non-instrumental with vocals done by Oddzoo begins with an uplifting melody but is soon transcended by a clanging beat and distinctly disturbing set of lyrics about the link between person and machine. The change in tempo is slickly done in the last third and captures a sort of erotic climactic finale within the song before phasing out and continuing into “Tainted Empire. Pulsing and formidable the song thrusts forward initially with a stark landscape as though running from an assailant before pausing for breath with a slow funereal like pace that dissipates to leave an air of tranquillity. “Corrupted By Design” is oppressive, atramentous, heavy and dense with a claustrophobic intensity that twists itself through tendrils of uplifting synths before shifting the mood downwards to cavernous depths of solitude that serve to bridge into the closing and longest song “God Complex”.
As its title suggests the artificial intelligence has become dominant, reached its peak and the track exemplifies those traits with a soundscape that starts dramatically with expansive synths. The initial sequence is impenetrable, dense with a brooding ominous melody that is superseded by a lighter piece that floats above the song. Leaving you with a lighter mood the song has an elevated mood briefly in the mid-section as in a utopic aura though there is an inherent sadness you can feel in the synth work that is overshadowed when a low reverberating synth is introduced that takes the song to its climax and fades away.
Perturbator continues to define and redefine the synthwave scene and whilst he prefers not be classed within that genre his creative vision is boundless and “New Model” typifies why he continues to outstretch his peers within the genre continually.
9/10 (Martin Harris)