Review: Perfume Advert – Kappa Downs (Where To Now)

Perfume Advert’s last release, the dank, awkward brilliance that was ‘Tulpa’ on 1080P, was an album that took it’s time to burrow its way into your conciousness. Molasses slow and saturated with invention and ideas, ‘Tupla’ took the lo-fi house thing to a logical conclusion of sorts, taking a scalpel to the extraneous tissue that seemed to weigh down so much music within the genre. The result was a record that was both wistful and moving, layering its not inconsiderable grooves with the dust of a thousand long nights and short summers. Tunes like Rotted Out, with its half-speed machine funk roll, or Swamp Star with its feral lope, were scuffed gems that shone more and more with each listen.

‘Kappa Downs’, on Where To Now’s sub label Where2dance, retains much of its predecessor’s way with loose, understated grooves but really is a departure from ‘Tulpa’s’ fractured, world weary psalms. Where ‘Tulpa’ only rarely broke into something more direct, ‘Kappa Downs’ begins from a place where those same grooves are placed front and centre, allowing a much more obvious and lively dance floor aesthetic to emerge.

I say ‘lively’ but ‘Kappa Downs’ is hardly made up of prime time, big room bangers. The tunes are better marshalled perhaps, a tighter syncopation and a greater focus on vibe than mood, but they still haunt the periphery of the traditional floor. Beyond that, though, they exude the smoky, languid feel that is familiar to fans of labels like Mood Hut or Future Times, and they fit well within the current crop new wave house that is looming through the haze. The other difference is that ‘Kappa Downs’ feels a more deliberately polished release. Shorn of ‘Tulpa’s’ Grimy locks, the tunes here are free to see their way into a bigger world.

Fata is the embodiment of Perfume Advert’s new found chops. A long, dubby number, Fata never breaks into a sweat but still keeps itself moving on the back of a fat bass, the downbeat peels of synths and the thickened clack of the kicks. There is a playfulness at work too, which moves the tune from being a simple, deep groover into richer textures. The percussion, prominent and wriggly, dries the synths and keeps the momentum from slipping into a fugue state.

But while Fata is nice and deep, it doesn’t entirely hit the spot. The B-side, though, lifts things further. The Fens shuffles into life with gorgeous, classic chords chopping out the mood. Little touches of vocal add just the right frisson as does that understated yet punching bass. I find myself sticking the pitch up on it in order to squeeze every last drop of sleek funk out, but really there is no need. It’s pretty full of life as it is.

Creep Pop is in some ways closer to the pioneering spirit of the album than the other two tracks here. It maintains a similar aquatic charm but adds the subtlest touches of grunt to the drive. The bass rises forward in the mix pushing the tune into a hypnotic, very late night work out. Occasional clatters of perc snap you back and forth, drawing you back to the great washes of sound that dominate the groove. It feels just that little bit more pronounced; house music on the edge of trance. It’s a beguiling end to a strong EP that brings out a different side of Perfume Advert’s work.