Along with the likes of Dan Terminus and GosT, Perturbator has been one of the leading lights in the burgeoning Synthwave scene. The combination of retro, 80s-infused electronica played with the enthusiasm and tempo of Heavy Metal has become the not-so-guilty pleasure of metalheads looking for a reprieve from their usual playlists.
Synthwave (or Darkwave, or whichever specific pigeonhole you use) acts are normally pretty prolific. But with no new full album from Perturbator (better known to his mum as Parisian musician James Kent) in 2017, the six-track New Model EP (Blood Music) will have to suffice in tiding fans over until something more substantial comes along.
While he’s always had a poppy, melodic edge to his music, New Model sees Kent go even darker than previously heard. It’s more minimalist, more industrial. There are still plenty of light moments, but these are countered with a heaviness that almost makes you feel uncomfortable in comparison.
Opener ‘Birth of a New Model’ could be used as a general introduction to Perturbator in general; a slow groundswell of pulsing and minimal drumbeats build until they finally make way for that satisfying up-tempo cyber-beat that’s become the staple of the scene.
But is the only words that can be used to describe ‘Tactical Precision Disarray’ are slow, heavy, dark, unformattable. It has the same kind of feel and impact that you got the first time you heard the ‘industrial sounds of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.
‘Vantablack’ features guest vocals from French outfit OddZoo, a slow, but eerily warming pop number that acts as a centrepiece and break from the bleak. ‘Tainted Empire’ is dirty and unhinged. It swings from almost dubstep levels of low-end to that warm 80s jive and back again. ‘Corrupted By Design’ is less foundation-shattering but equally dark and unnerving. Bookending proceedings is the nine-minute ‘God Complex’; an epic journey that encompasses everything previously heard into one piece.
As satisfying to listen to alone in a dark room as it would be in some underground dance club, New Model is another excellent addition to the already impressive Perturbator back catalogue. And one that shows why he’s held up as one of the leading lights of the scene.