Piri Piri - Patterns EP

Eclectic dance-work from South London duo Piri Piri.

Additional Info

7.5

ALBUM: Patterns - EP

ARTIST: Piri Piri

2014

Electronic

Etymologically derived from a type of spice also known as the African bird’s eye chili, Piri Piri have unveiled a selection of hot-headed dance-tracks that match the artists’ namesake in their mixable nature and zest. But, unlike the oft-guided use of peppers, producers Joe and Christopher provide no recipe: throwing a piquant array of sounds and rhythms together to serve up a three-course meal in club music. Their flavors are not entirely arbitrary however, and though all three of their original cuts differ vastly in tone and style (if not tempo), Patterns EP manages to preserve the duo’s preference for weighty beats and tactile melodies throughout. Therefore, despite conforming to some formalistic structures in dance music, Piri Piri are not genre-chameleons. Instead, the producers explore disparate colors only to construct their own brand of intelligent headbangers.

Hailing individually from Spain and England, one might speculate that Piri Piri’s diverse sound palettes are a product of their geographies. But the album counters this notion by painting unusual scenes, unifying thematic-genres and borders far-flung from their origins. The first tune, “Peak,” rolls wildly through industrial techno and tropical house textures; playing out as a heated exchange between metal strikes and wooden congas. Whereas its precusor, “Ice Cream” (featuring London-based Sally Crumb), sinks jagged glassy synths into a retro rhythm and bass groove, transforming into some vampiric disco. Piri Piri therefore produce quite a heterogeneous mixture on Patterns EP, pieced together with heavy percussions, offhand samples and pitched drum-rolls filtering in and out of the track. While the last original on the EP, the subaqueous “Quest,” also stirs these ingredients in, it provides a thoughtful break from the rigid bodily instructions given by its precursors.

This album never lingers for long, fluently arranging layer upon layer to ensure that its listeners stay motivated. Most of these energies are concentrated in the texture and rhythm, so those who do not enjoy intricate percussive lines might want to give this album a skip. Otherwise, it is the minutiae that make Piri Piri’s productions so gripping: intelligently tweaking phrases with each iteration, adding and subtracting substances to extract different expressions of the beat or increase the pace of their attack. Such is the economic use of elements in Piri Piri’s songs that merely accentuating its different parts constitutes linear motion. Patterns, though, is not entirely minimalist, nonetheless the duo manage to maintain the integrity of each component no matter how cluttered the framework becomes.

Despite the professional production quality, there is a childish joy in experimentation that directs the album—indeed, the two producers are quite young, having dropped their debut Manifesto EP on Sounds of Sumo only two years before. In contrast, this effort reveals a level of maturation but still seems to draw from adolescent caprice: a sense of unbridled exploration infuses itself into their compositions, free to wander through curious soundscapes and dislocated spaces. When combined with a deft hand in production, this spirit of adventure is infectious, offering an explanation for Piri Piri’s steady ascendance in the London club scene. That their sophomoric release should mark the relaunch of the excellent Belgian Silverback Recordings Imprint is certainly a testament to the duo’s well-deserved hype.

Indicative of their gains in traction, Patterns is finished-off with remixes from a host of talented and (relatively) prominent artists: Parisian colleague Jean Nipon, Sound Pellegrino affiliate Matthias Zimmermann, grime-revisionist Visionist, and recent Boiler-room feature Neana. Though their versions provide some variation to Piri Piri’s strut, it is difficult to match the South Londoners’ mesmerizing ferocity. Neana’s messy scramble of “Quest” definitely deserves a listen though, while Visionist puts a decidedly grimy spin on “Ice Cream.” Neglecting these tracks would be unfair, but it is more telling of Piri Piri’s compelling force that a serious remix cast does not steal the limelight. Patterns EP thus presents a riveting collection of eclectic and intelligent designs by two exciting figures in the London club scene. It is true that their techniques are by no means unfamiliar to music producers, but the duo do breathe fresh air into dance music that can, at times, suffer from formulas and an overbearing desire to maximize the “bump” in each tune.

“Here we go again”

1. Peak
Opening with the frantic blistering of arpeggiating congas, “Peak” delivers a heart-pumping account of mechanical and tribal conflict. Though steady in its climb through these layers, the track has a violence that keeps the listener rooted throughout by pure force and vigor. Here, barreling afrobeats are pinned down by the sturdy clang of steel, whilst a gravelly sample mutters between the relentless four-on-the-floor kick. This thrilling assemblage of disparate parts, where industrial drills are permitted to grate against island sounds, is a statement of Piri Piri’s imperious intuition.8.5
2. Ice Cream
A retro-horror track, the EP’s second cut features labyrinthine synths disintegrating above a bouncing deep bass groove. Aside from the dynamic (but indiscernible) articulation of the repeated rap-vocal sample, “Ice Cream” waxes like a warped version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, where sinister elements are present but semi-satirical. With some disco-influence apparent even in the ominous synth-pads drifting mistily over the track, Piri Piri ensures that one is never too spooked. The track drops into a hefty ghetto-tech tune with skittish percussions and mechanical outbursts. Instantly recognizable and reflexively humorous, “Ice Cream” could kill a dancefloor.8.0
3. Quest
“Quest” provides some respite for your battered eardrums. Beginning with jazzy piano chords trickling across wispy percussions, the tune shares some stylistic similarities with Synkro’s fluid textures, sample-usage and hi-hat syncopation. The main harmony comes from a toned-down operatic voice, seeping through aquatic textures like sunlight shafts through water as in Flying Lotus’ “Until The Quiet Comes.” However, Piri Piri ensure that “Quest” is ultimately their own song, unleashing a smooth refrain that shutters to the track’s techno-rhythms. Small details again come into play, where delicate sounds flutter by and an occasional bell shimmers.8.5
4. Peak (Jean Nipon Word Office Remix)
Whilst a “Word Office” remix sounds intriguing, this effort somehow lacks the absorbing gusto of the original despite possibly being just as aggressive. Evolving from manic tapping against sewer walls to all-out subterranean madness, Nipon’s “Peak” remix is entropic. As it fills, he mashes distorted tones and disorienting sweeps into the heads of his listeners.6.0
5. Ice Cream (Visionist Remix)
Visionist has been busy the past few months, and his proficiency is apparent in this Grimy remix. Controlling a sparse density, Visionist carefully injects squelchy lasers, stammering claps and a looped synth faded eerily into the background. “Ice Cream” repeats a few too many times, but the track is delightfully gritty and dark.7.5
6. Quest (Matthias Zimmermann Remix)
Inserting delicate touches and crackles to Piri Piri’s oneiric piano and vocal arrangement, Zimmerman strips “Quest” bare and sets it against a thumping-yet-laidback beat. Though this rendition is pleasant in its slow-motion cinematics, it fails to accomplish much more than moving parts around.6.5
7. Quest (Neana Remix)
This remix would not be out of place as the third track on the album, sharing the dynamic character and economic diction that distinguishes Piri Piri’s “Peak” and “Ice Cream.” However, Neana presents a more frayed, messy solution, revamping “Quest” into a panting display of percussive intricacy. With an androgynous-pitched sample and minimal use of melody, Neana’s remix bears little resemblance to its sample-source. Eventually, soft skipping synths are introduced, and—with Neana’s instinct for tension-release schemes—it’s worth the wait.8.0
Written by Justin Kwok
Justin Kwok is a Media Studies major at UC Berkeley, but daydreams of being an instrumentalist in some electronic duo. He enjoys deep bass music and psychedelia.

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