Various Artists, Superlongevityfive

Artwork by Do-Ho Suh


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It’s testament to the strength of the music coming out of the Perlon camp that the label who ushered in the wave of micro-house and minimal that washed over the entire electronic scene is still going strong, long after the heyday of those genres. But then, even the Perlon records that epitomized minimal still somehow managed to stand apart from that very category. Eleven years on from the first Superlongevity compilation, which featured just eight tracks over two pieces of vinyl, the fifth chapter in the series boasts no fewer than 28 exclusive tracks and a box to house the seven pieces of vinyl it’s spread across. The compilation is also available on CD, though as it is only available mixed, the true rewards for this weighty box-set lie in the quality rich analogue format, something the Frankfurt born label have always been adamant about preserving.

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With such an overwhelming amount of music to digest (like Ostgut Ton’s Fünf release) it would be easy to do the comp a disservice by not allowing the tracks penetrate past the surface of the mind. At first contact there is the immediate, characteristic Perlon sound at the fore; intricate and percussive-led tracks that radiate with the brittle crackle of a fire reduced to embers. But further inspection reveals there are almost as many sides to the compilation as there are tracks and there are pockets of deeper feeling inherent in these productions, a real warmth that sinks in past the initial contact. The all star line up of contributors that stretches back to the earliest days of Perlon — from label owner Markus Nikolai to Dimbiman, Pantytec, Narcotic Syntax and Ricardo Villalobos through to newer signings Cassy, Shackleton, San Proper and Portable, represent both the history and the future of the label.

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One of the striking things about this behemoth package is just how cohesive the whole thing is. Save for a couple of exceptions — notably Shackleton’s typically on-point, esoterically free-flowing “Paper Throne” and the rambling, heedless mathematical glitch of Villalobos’ “Guaguay” — the tracks pass easily and logically from one to the next. The quality of the tracks is also exceptionally high, with only the aforementioned “Guaguay” and Fumiya Tanaka’s “Sorry Cucumber” really feeling like they failed to hit the mark, both suffering paradoxically from an indulgent sense of minimal verbosity. Elsewhere though, STL’s “Lost Somewhere” sounds like a zero-gravity exploration to the outer reaches, needing only a small handful of sounds to create an ethereal, haunted atmosphere with all of the grain, texture and depth that is endemic of his productions. The static heavy “She” by Tobias is also one of the many highlights, sketching out spacey, echoing keys over a distorted, broken beat and a plummeting bass line.

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Soulphiction provides ample amounts of kinetic groove with his jazz infused “Circulate,” while Half Hawaii (Bruno Pronsato and Sammy Dee) serve up one of the sweetest, skewed house vocals in recent times with the infectious “Bring Back the Love,” sending Caro’s honey-rich vocals breezing over a warm, mechanical house groove. It’s not the only vocal moment to grace the comp either; “Magnificent Cat Won’t Do” finds Cassy in a late night, laid back mode, fleshing out her vocals more than she has done on her more recent records, and Portable strikes a rich vein of 80’s inspired, melancholic synth-pop with the closing track “Keep On.” Sammy Dee and Pantytec hit the mark with their respective efforts, both producers pushing deep with excursions into the cerebral, minimal techno that has always exemplified the label’s sound. In saying that, there has always been a certain playfulness to some of Perlon’s artists that also shines through on their Superlongevity series. Whether it’s the cheesy, film score funk embodied in San Proper’s “Lady Cop,” Kalabrese & The Rumpelorchestra’s mojito sipping, island-life lounge of “The 2010 Kitchen Session,” or the ethnic, plucked string finesse of Morane’s “Kalumpung A Kalimku,” it’s clear Perlon aren’t ready to take themselves too seriously just yet. Where other labels have foundered and become irrelevant well before they’ve clocked up as many years as Perlon, it’s refreshing to see Superlongevityfive shows that not only is the German imprint a long way from their use-by date, but they’re still releasing some of their best material.

rubin  on February 16, 2011 at 5:19 PM

want this, shudder to think how much the vinyl will be in UK though!

Per Bojsen-Moller  on February 16, 2011 at 6:33 PM

it was about £65 when it came out, but limited to 1000 numbered boxes. this link is indeed shudder inducing

rubin  on February 18, 2011 at 7:03 PM

oh man, that’s outrageous. I almost wish you hadn’t provided links to the tracks as that tobias thing is absolutely essential!

exile  on February 19, 2011 at 5:44 AM

Appart from the takanaka & soulphiction, this jewel of an album can work at every moment in the evening. especially in the morning 😉
But you have to be in the zone to make a descent mix of some of these pearls

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