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Perturbator Evokes ’80s Low-Budget Soundtracks Uncannily on The Uncanny Valley

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Given our apparently endless appetite for all things ’80s, Perturbator’s musical POV isn’t that (retro) shocking. The project — the electronic brainchild of former black metal guitarist James Kent — simply chooses to evoke a more obscure (but no less important) sonic aspect of the decade: the low-budget genre soundtrack.

At first listen, The Uncanny Valley is akin to a great, lost John Carpenter score (forgetting the horror master’s recent Lost Themes project for a moment so I can make my allusion, ok?). Retro synths, icy beats, bleeps and bloops of analog machines, and every third song evoking some fantastic but never-filmed chase scene plucked from an appropriately dystopian future.

Here, you probably ask, “How is this metal?”

It’s not. Besides the obvious Carpenter adoration, Kent’s influences range from early Wax Trax industrial (witness the aggressive thump of “Diabolus Ex Machina”) to post-disco Moroder (see “Disco Inferno” which… isn’t disco) to Jan Hammer soundscapes. The rare vocal track like “Venger” might have snuck onto the Drive soundtrack. And maybe it’s Kent’s Parisian background, but the more cinematic moments here evoke Daft Punk’s brooding Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

(Oh, and if you dug the soundtrack to Kung Fury, you’ll appreciate the sax-iness of “Femme Fatale,” a song where you can practically feel the steam rising off some empty, rain-soaked street.)

According to the heavy noise experts at NPR (!), Valley was  “inspired by the ’70s Italian horror film Suspiria and the Japanese manga/anime classics Ghost in the Shell and Akira.” It’s also, thematically, set 24 years in the future in Tokyo. Perhaps that’s explained more in the accompanying graphic novel, or in the liner notes tucked within the album’s purple cassette. Because why not.

Whatever the case: Perturbator is a welcome return to a decade that had been seemingly stripped bare of inspiration. And bonus: whenever that ill-founded Escape from New York remake gets finished, they’ll have their soundtrack ready to go.

Perturbator’s The Uncanny Valley comes out May 6 on Blood Music. Listen to the tracks “Sentient” and “Neo Tokyo” and pre-order it here.

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