The thing with minimal wave music is that a template so forged in austerity can often feel like it requires personality to stay alive and keep moving. Unlike other forms of electronica, which are rooted more in a certain kind of physicality or ethereality (drill n’ bass, IDM, whatever), it comes from a point of repetition, monotony; it’s basically brittle, retro-futuristic, and emotionally caustic. Things like “Warm Leatherette” or Half Machine Lip Moves are perfect storms of texture, rhythm, but trying to rebottle that kind of magic seems pointless when you look at how much has gone before. The only thing worth bringing to the table is yourself, and if Perfect View is anything to go by, Lust For Youth revel in the challenge of unifying and directing all that monotony to a purpose.
Hans Norrvide brings a strange kind of manic, frigid determination to his synths, repeating nervous, static patterns and laying them over with frittering details and horror-movie like vocal samples. His own voice is less singing and more like something slung headlong toward the horizon, landing somewhere in your middle vision with a thud and an echo. Although this sounds profoundly gloomy, there’s a moody, throbbing kick to this record, like an alligator’s death roll; where last year’s Growing Seeds was preoccupied with problems of the heart, Perfect View is more about the body, about movement, be it dancing or just an episode of the shakes, and it’s reiterated constantly. If you’ve ever found yourself forbiddingly gazing at the floor in a dark, sweaty room filled with strangers, Perfect View understands.
Opener “I Found Love” sets the tone, with Norrvide sounding forbiddingly optimistic through the thick, gluggy smoke while a stomp propels the whole forward like a dude walking home at 4 AM with his face scrunched up. All up, it feels like a riposte to the facile superficialities of actual club music (“We Found Love,” etc.); for Lust for Youth, the kind of love found in these dark, smoky environments is too primal, too immediate for words, and what Norrvide conjures is messy, real, and far more distinct than the hyper-polished airbrushed sweat that cashes Calvin Harris’ cheques. What Lust For Youth are doing here is bringing out the root presences in the most disconnected and chaotic of moments, distilling these “perfect views” out of chaos, which in a sense is really the purpose of minimal synth music. Rooted in locked repetition and monochromatic moods, it’s a form that can tell stories synchronically, not diachronically, shading out every corner of a particular feeling-between-feelings and exploring it further as it plods out into infinity. No matter where the beat is or how fast it is, Norrvide slows time down through mantra and repetition, filling out the emotional space of something that would otherwise be brief, fleeting, and intangible. When he yells “we’re breaking silence” over and over again, it’s not a command or a plea, but the contour of a movement, raw, temporary feeling, pulling the distinguishable out of automated, soulless environments.
A machine is only what a human brings to it, and in the same way that human drama unfolds in smoky ballrooms, Norrvide is capable of not only wringing drama out of his devices (those melancholy chords in “Breaking Silence”), but also expanding upon and deepening it. What’s got more soul than a mantra, after all? When “Perfect View” morphs from a (sort of) enjoyably aimless infinity stomp into “Blue Monday” over the last minute or so, it feels like escaping out of a k-hole into a point where everything catches alight, like holding a lighter to a spider web in a dark, freezing room. Check back to Perfect View’s cover; they’re standing completely visible in the middle of the smoke; through all the drudging, dank misery, this is all about finding light in a hopeless place, even if the light itself belongs to hopelessness. This goes both ways, though; judging from the anguished vocal samples on “Barcelona” that arise from the muck, he had a worse time in Spain than Hemingway; it’s all static, sawtoothed paranoia, and it can cut right through you.
Although it’s a dark, drifting ride, Perfect View makes other recent minimal synth albums (Chromatics’ Kill For Love was so flat I haven’t heard it since last September, and I still feel bored) look positively one-dimensional in comparison, and does it in a third of the time. Norrvide is channeling immediate sensations into unfurling, inclusive moments. In the same way that Norrvide’s best compositions carefully submerge ideas so they can later rise and bloom, giving Perfect View your repeated but not reinforced attention is the way to get the most out of it; that way, the subtle, big moment come looking for you, not the other way around, and your senses will expand to fit the space he’s left for them. This may be cold, distant music, but Norrvide never leaves you lonely for long.