I was really really late coming to the work of Nigel Rogers. I think my introduction to him was via his release as Operator Tracey (a split with Perseus Traxx, in fact) a couple of years back; the excellent Derrick May sampling, line-in-the-sand moment of Nothing To Do With Us – where Dezza rages against EDM over a wonky and intense acidic work out – got used by me to hammer home the point in more than a couple of conversations for a long while afterwards. It took me a while to click onto the fact that Operator Tracey and Perseus Traxx were one and the same. I can be a bit slow at times.
Most of you who are far more on the ball don’t need a run down on Rogers’ back catalogue from me. Suffice to say he’s popped up with super human frequency on a whole bunch of proper underground labels over the years, and although his sound has been refined here and there, he’s remained true to a type of playful yet often beautiful form of acid that mixes Detroit, British house and a certain amount of Dutch grit into something that feels contemporary and unique.
The Magic Garden continues in that direction but there are a couple of differences. Firstly, the sound is a little heavier than Perseus Traxx normal fare, the acid jacked up a few notches adding a muscularity to the music that hasn’t always been present in the past. Secondly the tunes don’t feel quite as claustrophobic and internalised. Instead they are far more in your face; never quite pounding, they are just fiercer, and the quieter moments accentuate the roar all the more eloquently. It’s perhaps not quite as expected, then, but it works pretty well and feeds adrenaline into an already pretty special formula.
Nymph Of The North and Gaia’s Diamond Blade are two peas in a pod, both full of golden Detroit synths that tumble over the drums. Nymph is a big tune; a futuristic midnight discoid belter and soulful odyssey that pares down the acid in favour of breathless melody and sweeping movement. It’s high-tech soul by way of the rain-soaked north. Gaia adds the burrowing 303s back into, putting them right into action amongst stark, descending riffs and smash n grab toms while the pads squeeze at your nerves, getting the whole thing worked up into a dark lather of metallic shadows. Not quite as potent as Nymph, the extra frisson of tension nevertheless keeps the beatdown taut and effective.
Tension is well named. seeming at first to be a straight ahead acid banger, it throws subtly cloudy synths over the top of the maelstrom, adding a flare of drama to the proceedings which keeps you off guard as the 303s spool up for their final assault on your brain. Such acid attacks are as ubiquitous as ever, but Perseus Traxx is one of the modern masters of the sound, creating symphonies with that little silver box, coaxing grand vistas from its repertoire.
Thoughts, finally, pitches the speed down slightly but creates a very odd world of its own, as if Dance Mania had been formed by swamp dwellers with a penchant for twisted funk. Echoing, off kilter and hazed with a mist of vocal sneers, it rides a jacking acid bass all the way down into the deep marsh, laughing as it goes. Warped acid house that’ll scar the brain and bruise the feet. Which is, all things considered, exactly as it should be.