The lovely music of Philip Perkins first came our way in 2015, when we noted a copy of Mr Anyhow, a set of gorgeous assemblages more or less in the “sound art” box…Perkins is a gifted audio technician but also a serious student and performer of contemporary music, and has a unique and imaginative approach to the way he assembles his sources. This is reflected once again on his new record It Gets The Corners (FUN MUSIC FUN N5), a record subtitled “Still Alive in the Studio 2014-2016”. No clues are given anywhere to what we might be hearing, or how Perkins created it, and that’s pretty much the way he wants it; and titles like ‘egg3’ or ‘water4’ aren’t exactly lucid in their explanations or very forthcoming as clues. That said, it’s fairly evident there are field recordings somewhere in these “corners”, but the process that’s more relevant is the assembly, the threading together and overlaying of multiple sound elements to create a very compelling sequence.
I think this might just be one of Perkins’ most notable traits in his work, and he’s more interested in this assembly process than he is in changing or radically transmuting sounds. If there is much in the way of sound-mutation going on here, in the manner of a classical electro-acoustic musician, Perkins is not calling attention to it. Listening to It Gets The Corners is thus more like engaging in a conversation, a two-way dialogue with a fascinating brain, whose very thoughts and impulses are almost visible to us through this vivid sound art. This is particularly so on the long track ‘Wreath’, where we can follow a rich and divergent chain of thought for 20 minutes and be led down many interesting tangential side-alleys and byways. But there’s much to be said for the shorter 3-minute tracks which follow, highly compressed sonic snapshots which present a surreal and distorted view of the worlds outside his window.
Unlike some highly academic composers with their stilted, overthought works of musique concrète or layered phonography, Perkins is genuinely fascinated by the world and wants to do justice to its beauty, with his very natural and honest portraits of contemporary life. His microphone reaches into the corners where others cannot go. From 26th September 2016.