Review: perkXsoundlabs, Structure
perkXsoundlabs is the experimental electronic music project masterminded by Phoenix-based producer and composer Paul Rolan Perkes. Perkes got his start in the music business rather late in life and not exactly by design. Formerly, he was the Principal Technical Support Analyst at the Arizona State University, but in 2007 Paul was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which obviously brought a lot of tragedy and pain to his life but it was through his shocking illness, that he discovered his deep-seated passion for music and since 2011, the ever-prolific songwriter has written, recorded and self-released 22 albums. The latest of which – his second release of 2015 – is titled, Structure and is available now via all digital retailers. The new album perfectly captures and builds upon his unique brand of electronica that incorporates elements of everything from modern classical compositions to colorful chiptune alongside hints of trippy trance, energetic dubstep and even 70’s and 80’s progressive rock for an engaging and psychedelic sound that uplifts and transports you to a different mindset.
The album opens with “Without Structure” and immediately introduces you to the thematic element of the album – check out the song titles - along with his nuanced and textural yet melodically-rich and memorable instrumental sound. Standout track, “Without Form” follows with an 80’s new wave inspired aesthetic complete with warped synths and infectious beat. “Without Substance” defies its own title with a powerfully pulsating rhythm and anthemic keyboard melodies adding substantial weight to the album. Alternatively, “Without Foundation” lives up to its title with waves of liquid synths and an airy atmosphere. The mysterious “Without Framework” is highlighted by a buzzing low end and twinkling chiptune synths for a nice contrast.
“Without Planning” opens with a deliriously danceable rhythm and ping-ponging synths that dissolves into a bridge consisting of spacey swooshes before breaking back into the beat again for a fun ride. The epic album centerpiece, “Without Thought”, clocks in at nearly seven and a half minutes and stands out with a slower, head-nodding beat and a hummable main melody. Next, the cinematic and emotionally-charged “Without Purpose” is built upon an introspective yet still propulsive piano melody that recalls Vangelis. “Without Consideration” stands out with crunchy electro-guitar riffs and a darker, Depeche Mode-esque atmosphere. Later, “Without Basis” soars with a peppy, insistent rhythm and synths like shooting stars and “Without Meter” showcases his love of prog-rock with subtle nods to both Tangerine Dream and Yes with a more straight-forward, tumbling drum beat and cosmic synths; all it needs is some poetic lyrics sung in an upper-registered vocal style. The hard-hitting and heavier “Without Intention” with its stuttering and clattering drum beat, pounded piano notes and early 90’s industrial techno flourishes closes out the album with a bang.
With all that Paul Rolan Perkes has been through – MS, the dissolving of a marriage, etc. – he could probably write a mean, classic country & western song without much effort, but that is simply not his style and besides, he perfectly expresses that organic emotion through his instrumental electronic music, especially on his latest album, Structure. Also, if after you listen to Structure you find yourself wanting more music from perkXsoundlabs – and you will – you won’t have to wait long, as he already has concepts and music planned for seven more albums to be released. Additionally, he offers a V.I.P. membership plan via his Bandcamp page that allows access to download all of his upcoming albums for a year plus downloads of each of his previous albums for only $30 – the deal of a century for all EDM fans!
Reviewed by: Justin Kreitzer
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars