They're lethal enough on their own, but as their debut Spiker demonstrated, put Perc and Truss together in a studio full of diesel-powered hardware, and you're looking at double the devastation. Spiker was amongst the hardest techno releases in circulation last year; reeking of mischief and abandon, its trifecta of heavy acid-techno rompers just that bit more unstable and corroding than either's solo material. Unintentionally, its sound proved to be another evolutionary milestone in the recent resurgence of noise-informed techno. THUMP got Perc and Truss together again for a natter about the making of Spiker's follow-up, Two Hundred, a 4-track hard-hitter released on Perc Trax this month.
THUMP: How did you come to make Spiker together?
Perc: We've known each other for ages through being booked for the same line-ups, so I suppose collaboration was inevitable once you become good mates. It also helps that we're both in London, because I've really grown apart from that typical online way of collaborating recently. I find writing together in the same room is a much better feeling.
Truss: That, and we realised that getting in a room together and making some music would be a slightly healthier alternative to doing what we'd normally do, which was meeting up in the pub for pints.
What made you to decide to make a second EP together?
Truss: It wasn't just that Spiker was well received - which I think it was - it was more because that, by the time we had released it, we'd already started writing the material for Two Hundred. The process of making the first EP was such an enjoyable experience; just a couple of mates hanging out and having some fun in the studio.
Perc: We didn't really take a break between the EPs, either. and we've released about a third of that material. There's various reasons why we'll chose to release one track and not the other, but I think the final 3 track selection on Two Hundred covers a lot more ground than the first EP. Some of the tracks are more experimental, like playing with different rhythms, while others are straight 4/4 club tracks.
What are your working methods like? Is this EP a result of a live jam session set up, or was it more pre-written?
Perc: Well, we always work at Tom's studio in central London. We get the machines connected, start jamming and set up a couple of loops, and usually after a couple of hours the track comes together. Once it's recorded, we can't go back and edit it.
Truss: We record it warts and all, so whatever happens, happens. A lot of the mistakes that creep in gradually seem less and less like mistakes, and grow to become the more interesting elements of the track. I think that with the (though hardly recent) advent of certain software, there's a temptation to go back in and edit everything to the "nth" degree, to overproduce - and this is especially apparent with regards to dance music. The vogue is to have this really rounded sound. On Two Hundred, this spontaneous way of working was our attempt to get out of the mindset that everything has to be perfect.
I love the idea that you spoke of, Perc, in a recent interview about allowing tracks to "degrade". Could you explain this further?
Truss: I suppose it's about forsaking consideration. In a kind of process-dictates-content sort of way, we want to capture a vibe, an energy, by trying to get tracks finished in a very short period of time.
Has this collaboration had an impact on how you continue with your solo work?
Perc: Well, I think Tom's way of working and my own differ. I'm a bit more laptop based and analytical, but when when I'm working with him I'm trying harder to capture a moment in time, like a snapshot.
Truss: Over the last 2 years I've been trying to write more "mindlessly", as it were: to let instinct take over and not deliberate for too long over it all. However, in my solo stuff I've been trying to find a middle ground between that approach, and something a bit more considered. Some tracks I'll come back to after three weeks or so, and make changes as I see fit.
There's seems to be so many collaborations right now, and not all are successful in combining the artists' respective styles into a coherent whole, but I think that on Two Hundred there's a really nice balance; especially on the title track, which seems to unite Tom's love of acid house and the political bent, Ali, that you wrote into The Power And The Glory.
Perc: Yeah, I agree it does take from some of our recent solo stuff, particularly between the vocal sample and the fact that it's the most overtly acid-indebted track on the EP. The sample is grabbed from a video of this taxi driver, who's quite well know for his YouTube rants about a bunch of different topics: government, welfare, the recession. I guess 'Two Hundred' is the first protest song about getting on the London property ladder in dance music history, ha.
What is it about acid house that you find so interesting? I'm interested how techno producers go about folding references to rave into a track, without it coming of as overly nostalgic?
Truss: There's just something about the sound of the 303 that I find really appealing, just like I find distorted kick drums appealing. Something about it just speaks to me at a very basic level.
Perc: For me, I'm just relishing the chance to make authentic sounding acid tracks with hardware, rather than doing a bad rendition of acid using crap software plug-in. But as for pastiche, you have to be careful. On 'Forever Your Girl', if I'd put the rave stabs with break beats it would have just sounded like an old rave track, but by putting the stabs with a more modern-day, dirty kind of techno sound, I think we've avoided any sense of pastiche. It's a case of wrapping them together in new and interesting ways - or perhaps using them discerningly.
Do you think there has been a shift in UK producers looking to their immediate peers, rather than looking to German techno: artists and labels, clubs like Berghain and the sentiments they evoke?
Perc: Yeah, there's definitely a 'UK techno sound' emerging (which hasn't even peaked yet) that's distinct from that of mainland Europe. It's not so much a conscious decision to break from the continental sound, but in the UK there's a tendency to play shorter sets at a higher intensity, so in turn the music produced here is different to say, what's produced in Berlin, where 10 hour DJ sets are the norm. I love the unpredictable kind of sets British DJs like Tom plays which really mix it up; throwing loads of styles into this lurching, erratic set. In Berlin, I feel that DJs who play longer sets are limited, because for a 10 hour set to hold together there needs to be uniformity.
Truss: What with our new 'spontaneous' way of working, I'd like to think that, as a consequence, the music we make sounds full of life, and vibrant, which maybe a lot of techno nowadays doesn't.
Perc: I think that both of us are very conscious of all the techno that's out there at the moment, and we hope that Two Hundred is something that's slightly different to all this over stuff.
You can buy Perc & Truss - Two Hundred EP here
You can follow Lauren Martin on Twitter here: @codeinedrums