Forward Strategy Group: Labour Division (Perc Trax)
Perc Trax is on a roll! The full-length debut album from UK duo Al Matthews and Patrick Walker is leaps and bounds cooler than the EPs I’ve heard from them over the last year or two. This is an album that really travels a distance over the course of its ten tracks. Opener “Ident” is an uplifting prologue, with its beatless arrangement of synths. From there it’s a headier mix of beats, bass and texture, without so much melody. But what’s refreshing is that as an album it really takes its time, never even really hitting what I’d call a proper techno stride until the halfway point. Perhaps that’s why this album is so compelling to me: it should be a techno album, but it’s not really techno at all. “Elegant Mistakes” is a nice crunchy broken beat groove, while “Industry & Empire” is a mid-tempo chugger that has some sweet detailing amidst the factory reverberation. “Metal Image” continues this thread of spacious, deep sound with an industrial slant — that is, industrial in the factory-like sense, not “rargh rargh rargh” vocal stylings or whatever. “TTH” is a really handsome gloomy groove, reminding me a bit of Monolake at his most melancholy, a big counterpoint to the rather streamlined mid-tempo electro of “Mandate” that starts things off. It’s an album that I’d say lends itself way more to home listening than club play; FSG have paid their dues to the dancefloor numerous times over by now anyway. They show off their chops at more atmospheric, less predictable sounds here with flying colors — superb all around.