Dangerous Days, by Perturbator
Suggested by Noli-Rose Nikitaki
Perturbator is the project’s third synthwave act.
Synthwave is an electronic music microgenre that’s firmly squared in the Eighties. It draws on the soundtracks of the decade’s action, sci-fi and horror films as its major influence, with interwoven media such as video games and artwork also lending a hand. It’s exciting stuff, for those of us who were there the first time and for those of you that appreciate such retro chic. As I’ve metioned previously, if you’re looking for a cultural touchstone on which to hang this sound, then the theme from Stranger Things will set you on the right path.
My previous dalliance with Synthwave was via Kavinsky, the French electropop musician whose 8/10 Outrun I reviewed for Album 271, and Dance With The Dead, whose album Loved to Death took down a 7/10 score back in review 185. Will Perturbator manage a similar score?
The first thing to say about Dangerous Days is that it’s a lot more disquieting than Kavinsky. It seems that the man behind the moniker, the improbably English-sounding Frenchman James Kent, much like Dance With The Dead, embraces the darker sounds and themes from the horror genre above all others. That’s fine, of course. There’s nowt wrong with dark. Song names are suitably evocative, such as Humans Are Such Easy Prey, Complete Domination, Last Kiss, and the exquisitely bleak She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next. Perturbator’s pedigree springs from Death Metal, apparently, so I’m rather glad these tracks are largely instrumental.
There’s a palpable sense of unease throughout Dangerous Days, which is exciting at first but does get tiring after a while. With almost seventy minutes to power through, there’s only so much tension you can carry in your shoulders before your back starts to ache. Happily, the songs themselves move with a dancer’s agility, so there are plenty of opportunities to shake out the brooding stiffness.
And it’s here, I think, where I fade away from this album. I like it in an intriguing way, but I feel that while the Dance Music Dial on the previous Synthwave acts has been set at five or six, the same dial on Perturbator’s offering is set somewhere between eight or nine. What’s an excellent driving unease in the early Perturbator’s Theme becomes repetitive by the time you hit Complete Domination, even with it’s middle-section tempo breakdown. And yes, there is a change of pace in the swirling Last Kiss and the smooth swagger of the final track Dangerous Days, but my point still stands regardless.
But overall, I enjoyed it. Maybe not as much as Kavinsky or Dance With the Dead, but it does have its moments. My standout is the abovementioned Humans Are Such Easy Prey, which has an Industrial Terminator feel.
Perturbator gets a worthy 6/10. It’s good enough, but it’s sat behind two acts that already scratch this particular faux-nostalgic itch.