The fans of barbed sounds met with excitement the news about Perc’s album, his first full-length after a production career of ten years.
Heavyweight single of “My Head Is Slowly Exploding”, where Chris Carter’s remix outplayed the one by Ancient Methods, heralded the march of angry machines for the album. Also by the design and semantics, “Wicker & Steel” does not stand for wellness and relaxation.
But the album is not exactly filled with torture room techno, although harsh sandpaper sounds dominate in “My Head …”, “Start Chopping”, “London, We Have You Surrounded”. Atmospheric “You Saw Me” carries something (from the sky), like we know from Jeff Mills’ recent output and “Gonkle” derives from the mountain caves of the Lord of the Rings.
In my view, the real value of “Wicker & Steel” lies in tracks that might sound like moments of meditation, if compared to the rest. Already the voice-modulated “Choice” tells a great story on chilled-out backdrop, signaling that this is not an ordinary techno album. My peak moments come in “Pre-Steel” – an industrial ambient anthem to the infrastructure consisting of freight trains, cranes, tankers at the Port of Southampton or elsewhere. Before the end, “Snow Chain” might be inspired by big chill of recent UK winters – the track is as crisp and cold. Those three are found also in the sound clip below.
So, instead of gloomy beasts my heart beats for mystic beauties in this album, among the best of techno full-lengths in 2011.