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Viking's Choice: Replicants Live On In Perturbator's Dark Synths

Perturbator's James Kent.
Johan Barbara
Courtesy of the artist
Perturbator's James Kent.

We're only five years away from Ridley Scott's 1982 vision of a retro-futuristic Los Angeles, when all that stands between human and biorobotic android is the Voight-Kampff machine. But the dark tones and moral ambiguity of Blade Runner never left the film's cult fans — particularly those beguiled by Vangelis' synth-driven soundtrack.

Performing as Perturbator, Parisian musician James Kent is one of the foremost replicants, er, disciples of the expanding retro-synth movement. In fact, Dangerous Days, his third album as Perturbator in only two years, shares a name with the exhaustive three-and-a-half-hour (!) documentary included in Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

Perturbator knows how to set a mood. A droning, mid-tempo four-on-the-floor grounds the instrumental banger "Future Club," lurching like a back-alley ne're-do-well on the first beat of every four measures. The wistful melody grits its teeth throughout, sometimes overwhelmed by the heavy production. (Kent, after all, got his start in metal bands.) And maybe the back alley is a more representative scene to envision than a nightclub — these synths seethe with growing contempt in the dystopian city Perturbator creates. Something's going to fight back.

Dangerous Days comes out June 17 on the Finnish metal label Blood Music and the synth label Telefuture. You can follow Perturbator on Bandcamp and Dangerous Days artist Ariel Zucker-Brull here.

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Lars Gotrich
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