VA: Superlongevity 3

Given how definitively Perlon staked out its unique brand of microhouse with the celebrated Superlongevity, one might well wonder why—aside from the obvious commercial reasons—the label might risk diluting its impact with a further installment. Having already exhaustively documented the genre by showcasing twenty-nine tracks from its star-studded roster spread across 150 minutes, what could another chapter possibly do to expand upon it? As it turns out, with the new collection Perlon strikes the perfect balance between maintaining continuity with its past and moving beyond it in a most distinctive fashion, as Superlongevity 3 is the most satisfying release yet in the series.

Not surprisingly, the usual suspects—familiar contributors like Ricardo Villalobos, Dimbiman, Dandy Jack, Pantytec, Akufen, Copacabannark, Narcotic Syntax, and Markus Nikolai—return but there are key differences. Unlike the non-stop mix of the 2-CD set, number three presents its thirteen pieces separately but, more critically, also demonstrates clear artistic growth with its tracks still firmly groove-based but now reaching higher levels of compositional sophistication. Narcotic Syntax (James Dean Brown and Yapacc), for instance, navigates its way through some exotic tribal jungle on “Pingpong Voodoo,” indicative of just how far beyond the standard house genre this Perlon set travels. Finally, limiting the release to a single disc makes for more concision, arguably preferable to the generous sprawl of a double set.

Highlights abound. Ricardo Villalobos's “Alsbalduin” starts the set off smoothly as jazzy guitar figures and glitchy accents cohere into a hyperkinetic, bubbly groove which subtly mutates into rubbery funkhouse over its seven minute span. While it's a tasty opener, it doesn't deviate radically from the familiar style, unlike Dimbiman's incantatory “Papa Puffi's Secret” whose native chants provide the first unusual departure from the norm. Dandy Jack and the Latin Lava follow with the funky “El Gigolo Andino” which begins unassumingly but gathers force with the gradual accretion of synth textures and electro patterns; its most memorable hook is the piercing synth tone that intermittently rises out of the percolating groove. The clipped voice samples and skipping beats of “Alabaster” find Pantytec (Sammy Dee and Zip) stealing a page from Akufen's book, while Marc Leclair himself goes undercover as Horror Inc. for “A Dream Within A Dream,” a sensual and mellow track whose nuanced handling of echo and texture proves mesmerizing. Matthew Dear appears as Jabberjaw with “Maybe This Ain't Right,” a stuttering funk groove constructed of glitchy tears and blurred voice samples. To these ears, however, the best (although least representative) track is Markus Nikolai's “‘Mr. Big Star (Time Too Short To Finish the Mix Mix),” which hopefully offers a tantalizing foretaste of Perlon tracks to come. It's an irresistibly funky slice of bass-heavy microhouse soul with a lovely vocal contribution from Nina Gerhard. The combination of her sensual singing, gorgeous electric piano lines, and lithe skipping hi-hats makes for an incredible result. Sense Club (Lucien'n'Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos) closes out the collection with showers of crackling electronics and percussion soloing on “Tanz Glatte,” a distinctive finish to a definitive collection.

By recording's end, one is no longer mulling over the possible rationales for the release but is merely basking in its pleasures. And, frankly, when music is as strong as it is here, exhaustive analysis of motive or intent seems unnecessary, if not misguided. What matters most is that Superlongevity 3 inhabits a spectacular middle ground as it advances artistically in a most sophisticated manner while never losing sight of its house foundations. It'll be interesting to discover whether Superlongevity 4 can possibly match the peak established here.

December 2003