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Go BackPerlon - minimal chic.

Posted: 9/7/07 18:31

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 According to technical sources, the characteristics of Perlon are "elasticity, durability, and gloss."

Admittedly, they are talking about the nylon-like fibre Perlon (a by-product of coal tar, first synthesised in pre-war Germany and widely used to make women's stockings and parachute cords), not the slick minimal label of the same name.

But the description applies equally and, as Perlon celebrates 10 years with a stunning release from Luciano (Fourges et Sabres
) we thought the time ripe to take a little behind-the-scenes tour of this particular music factory.

Stepping back in time to 1997, Perlon founders Zip (Thomas Franzmann) and Markus Nikolai were already friends and collaborators, both in an EBM band called Bigod 20 and an audio-visual outfit called Pile.

Zip's background was in live music – he'd been a singer for a band called Second Voice in the 80s, before moving to Frankfurt, where he hooked up with Nikolai. For his part, Nikolai has dipped in and out of music in more than half a dozen bands, including Hombre Ojo and Narcotic Syntax.

Skim any of the (four) SuPERLONgevity label compilations and you'll see these names crop up, along with Dimbiman (another of Zip's aliases), Pantytec (Zip and Sammy Dee) and a host of other variations on a theme, engineered by the label's co-founders. Who, though they may have their roots in band music, have created an entirely different musical universe with Perlon. Pared down, electronic, minimal, and – going back to that first description of Perlon – not short on elasticity, durability, or gloss.

 However, Perlon is much more than a vanity project, or a sideline for Markus and Zip's many alter egos. One mark of their dedication to moving with the sound is that they took the label from its original home in Frankfurt to Berlin, staying on the cutting edge of the German techno revolution. The other is the eye-popping list of artists they have released over the last decade.

The who's who of minimal stars includes, of course, Luciano and his old friend Ricardo Villalobos, (including collaborations between the two in their Sense Club guise, a reference to nights Luciano used to run back in Santiago). Cassy, one of Zip's fellow residents at Panorama Bar, crops up; as does Akufen (and his Horror Inc alias); Melchior Productions; Baby Ford; Jabberjaw (aka Audion, aka Matthew Dear); Stefan Goldman and Matt John are among the others on the illustrious roster.

As you can imagine, the labels output (63 releases and counting) is a delicate collage of minimal styles, from the Latin-infused strains of Ricardo and Luciano, to the crisp, modulated beats of the likes of Cassy and Akufen. One dazzle-eyed reviewer described the combined sound of Perlon by talking of its "crystalline beats, binary excursions and rhythmical punctures " before concluding that "a sense of euphoria floods every minute." High praise indeed.

And while opinions will vary as to the individual moments of glory, there's no doubt Perlon is one of those labels that enjoys a positive – not to say downright enthusiastic – consensus view. From ladies' hosiery to adoring the ears of clubbers around the world, Perlon is still dressed to kill.

Words by Cila Warncke