Review: Peverelist – Tesselations
Up until the mid 00s the free party scene of the South West kept rave’s dream alive. With many artists from the region who caught the tail of that era now coming of age, this is seeping into the fabric of their sound and giving it a distinct identity. The influence of open-air parties that were until the late 00s still common in the Avon Valley is as potent to Bristol’s current underground electronic music scene as the impact of the city’s clubs. Throughout Tessellations there is an elusion to open, natural spaces viewed through the prism of an urban melting pot of underground sounds.
Powered by a rich soundsytem culture born of Jamaican immigrants, with the easy escape to open space on the doorstep and of course submerged in a permanent purple haze, Bristol has always had a unique backdrop to absorb new musical forms. It is also the most isolated of the UK’s larger cities, so much of the dance music that it turns out twists these formulas into a distinct form that falls into a niche between inner city grit and a tripping, outward gaze. This lends itself well to creating a widescreen, distinctly South Western musical blueprint, one that is full of the contrasts of the region.
As one of the area’s key current artists, Peverelist channels this into his assault on the of the album format, with a rich, organic and cinematic results that keep his upfront, urban influences close at hand.
With reverence for the past yet a bent on the future, Peverelist’s sound balances a rude take on minimalism, while nurturing the emotive long tail of rave. His focus has primarily been on evolution rather than nostalgia, as was channelled in its rawest form into the creation of Punch Drunk in 2006. Later evolving into Livity Sound in 2011, the label remains a platform for much of the same class of 06 to put a very Bristol slant on house and techno. In the mean time, Pev has become one of the region’s most forward thinking, influential and internationally respected players.
Tessellations has a clinical efficiency and a tight narrative. The LP’s lack of clutter gives the smoother elements freedom to blend effortlessly with tough, textured beats. There are club tracks here but the two years of work that has gone into this long player pulls it together into a solid listen. Each track works like a scene in a film, with its own theme.
The opening tracks get the LP off to a light and airy start. 'Under Clearing Skies' captures that moment of clouds rolling back, easing claustrophobia by bathing open space in colour. Hazy rave stabs penetrate a stuttering beat and the rumble of far off bass eludes to greater intensity yet to come. 'Still Early' is a sunrise walk home complete with the synthetic chatter of the dawn chorus. Rigid, rave melodies fall with Goa-esque propulsion, while pads swoon around them.
'Sheer Chance Matters' starts to create tension with its close-cropped minimalism before giving way to a warm glow. Similarly, 'Wireframes' is finely tuned, psychotic minimalism that again surrenders to a chilly wave of euphoria. Think the last few hours of a Spring time open air party with the sun slowly drawing itself over the horizon and turning round to survey a crowd oscillating between beautiful happy-hippy chic and edgy career criminals.
The glitches of the pitch bent pads on 'Brinks and Limits' expertly create suspense as their imperfection works against the metronomic beat. This sets up a contrast to the LP’s most euphoric moment, which is Slice of Life. Urgently rolling and with a clean finish it is scrubbed up and well mannered next to the ruder, steppy numbers. It hints at a reverent love letter to Detroit signed off by Bristol. The track adeptly illustrates how the Motor City sound, however universal it may be, has been adapted slightly differently by each regional scene in which it has been embraced. Pev focuses on the uplifting, emotive and propulsive, a la Octave one or Rolando.
Given the twists and turns of the album up to Further Inland, the coiled melodic grandeur sets the track on tender hooks before easing it back into the purple smoke. It all leads up to a tantalizing, trans-dimensional pad that dips in for fleeting seconds but is somehow the moment of the whole LP. The attention to detail, restraint and patience it takes from a producer to do this is a constant theme throughout Tessellations and makes it easy to forget that this is the debut album from Peverelist.
Tessellations is the cinematic latest chapter in a discography that is at consistently kinetic, stoned and emotive. Although the LP owes as much to its regional heritage it is also a signature of a producer entirely comfortable with a sound that takes these influences in new and exciting directions through minimising and combining them. Pev brings this emphasis on sound design home on several occasions so that as tracks unfold, lesser moments become the most memorable parts of a greater plot.
It is this unpredictability that preserves the edge of a very raw urban expression and makes the voice of the label and the city of Bristol ever more vital. Pev redeploys the angsty inner city drive of over 30 years of urban machine music and refines it without blunting the edge that made it so vital in the first place.
Buy the release from May 26th HERE.