Album Appreciation: Man With The Magic Soap by Persher

As you can imagine I spent a significant part of my time during lockdown listening to music… on my own round the house with headphones, rather than banging it out over the Hi-Fi or during long walks. I found that my tastes distilled into two polar opposite areas; at one end chilled out glacial Scandinavian ambient/ folk, while at the other banging techno and thrash metal… respectively especially in the guises of Blawan and Slayer. In fact such was the way I listened to these two acts at the time what they have become somewhat interconnected in my head and I rarely think of, or play, one without the other.

My revival of Blawan, the production name of DJ Jamie Roberts, led to me exploring his more recent work, where I alighted on his Karenn collaboration with Arthur Cayzer (aka Pariah), and especially their 2019 release ‘Grapefruit Regret’, which to my ears is full of crisp techno bangers… Cayzer’s influence taking some of the dark opaqueness from Blawan’s solo works rendering it different (not a qualitative judgement)… something that can be confirmed with Pariah’s releases such as the ‘Caterpillar’ EP which is replete with joyous beats and clean synths. For me, ‘Grapefruit Regret’ is, in broad terms, a superb mid-point between the two musicians, and I encourage you to explore it below to get the full contemporary techno experience… really annoy the neighbours with it!

Which brings me to the music in hand because, and it may be hard to believe at first, this album is by the same duo… this time under the name Persher, which is a somewhat revelatory matter for me because it probably pitches in an area that is closer to Slayer than Blawan… but actually if you’re going to place it anywhere it’s probably Petbrick: which is a meeting of minds of founding Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera and Wayne Adams of noise band Big Lad. This is perhaps because Persher puts aside the electronics of Roberts and Cayzer’s oeuvre and focuses on guitars and drums… albeit heavily treated ones… add in Robert’s voice which veers between an industrial scream and a death raw… both of which, by the way, are great…

Both of these are evident on the opening title track which really gets the set off to a blistering start… the metronomic drums and sludgey guitar hits you straight away, before the vocals kick in… you’re immediately in the middle of an absolute maelstrom which is at the same time chaotic, yet when you get inside it there is the sort of method within that madness that you would expect from producers with the respective backgrounds of Roberts and Cayzer… it’s heavy, it’s industrial, it’s noisy… and I love it.

‘Calf’ is a slower track but, if anything, it is more jarring… there is a real feeling of discombobulation as the fragments of sound stab their way in and out, and your brain struggles to tune into the music… a recent comparison here would be with Pharoah Overlord, but perhaps with a darker and more sinister intention… and while this is a less frenetic track the intensity is almost overwhelming.

After that ‘Ten Tiny Teeth’ really pushes you back into the realm of hyper-industralia…it’s the sonic equivalent of having your head totally caved in as wave after wave of pounding noise hits you… the lacerating drums, the piercing vocals and the barely distinguishable guitar combine to produce a manic melange of music…

The oddly named ‘World Sandwiches 2’ has a sort of vertigo swirl quality too is as you synesthesically find yourself spiralling with the music, beginning with the huge drum intro and guitars that are mangled synth-like into a horror coil of diminution as you struggle to stay on the surface of rationality… it’s a track that I would love to see performed live with its tribal and utterly insane beats and riffs as you find yourself on the edge of chaos staring into the abyss.

I feel like I need to take a bit of a rest after that… and while the intensity doesn’t really let up there is a little more space to breathe in ‘Face to Face Cloth’… at points here the guitar almost sounds like a guitar… before it disappears into what feels like dropping into and infinite echo chamber… it exemplifies for me the degree to which this album is accessible… which I think that it will be for many followers of the genres covered here, although those who have followed Roberts and Cayzer from their other projects might take time to acclimatise… however, what it suggests for me is that once you’re under the hood of this album there’s something exciting going on in the many eddys flowing inderneath… it’s worth the effort in other words.

S I’m certainly feeling pretty well acclimatised now as we get to penultimate number ‘Mother Hen’. I am liking the repetition here, but also picking up all sort of little vignettes of sound which act as surprising hooks that drag you along. Indeed, as is often the case with this sort of music you really need answer its demand as you listen to it, and listen to it intensely… if you do it will give it back to you multiple times.

And with that we reach the final track, ‘Patch of Wet Ground’, finishing off what it a short but sharp set running to just over 26 minutes… but does that matter? Well of course not… it’s a heavy and demanding ride and you’re going to need time to process it… particularly as the duo seem to leave the most difficult experience to the end… it feels like there are so many tensions running through this… with Roberts’ voice searing through it like a dragon who has swallowed a methane canister searing everything in his path… yet as it, surprisingly, quietly tails off at the end you are perhaps left with the not uncomplimentary questions of “what the fuck was that?” and “can I listen to it again?”

‘Man With The Magic Soap’ is out now on Thrill Jockey.



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