While lofi house operators aren’t exactly hard to come by at the moment, it’s generally easy to know when you’ve got something special. Those tuning into Perfume Advert’s debut will know they’ve come across just such a delicacy, as the Middlebrough-hailing duo crank out a beautifully textured album of warm, hazy jams. The warmth is almost all-consuming: the humidity goes through the roof on these vivid slices of ambient house / techno, each recorded live and bristling with atmospherics samples and details. Tulpa presents a fully formed sound and is in no way a hesitant debut for the pair, each track as inviting as the last, sure to keep aficionados hooked through the winter months.
The immediate draw to the tracks of Tulpa is undeniably the ear for textural detail generously showcased across the album, yet the beats themselves bear more than a passing mention. The album’s drums are governed by a relaxed funk, rarely venturing into the paranoid states which so many 4/4 vets occupy. Opener Lampers is a compelling mission statement of the album’s sound: murky percussion jostled up against brighter synth notes, while a veritable ecosystem of atmospheric detail adds nuance to the lumbering gait. Rotted Out continues in the same vein, the drum pattern dragging its feet under curt vocal and string samples which add an exotic flavour to the sound.
This breed of slow, muggy house is the target of many producers but rarely are the results this tactile, as deeply sensual samples and grooves swim in and out of focus alongside languorous synth strokes. Sand Worm ups the pace, with a prominent vocal slice and a swooning ambient wash, while smoky highlight Swamp Star adds a touch of menace to its chilled-out groove with a rising synth alarm. Even the album’s shorter numbers exceed their roles as incidental sketches, the likes of Wades proving a brief album standout with its hurricane beat pattern and swaying synth wash. Finally on Tulpa the duo hit upon yet another key ingredient, dispelling the album’s sluggish pace with a bouncing beat pattern that shows the club potential of their signature sound.
Listening to Tulpa is like gazing into a series of rockpools: the more time you spend peering into them the more you can see, until an analogue house jam turns into a microscopic world teeming with sonic life. Perfume Advert’s sound is tired but never tiring, as the pair expertly furnish their lazy grooves with an uncommonly fine ear for detail and atmosphere.