Perlon has always been for those who know. From their headsy releases to their minimalist artwork, their unique parties and their lack of promo, the German-born label has always thrived on being slightly aloof, understated and exclusive without being ostracizing.
The label, founded by Markus Nikolai, Zip and Chris Rehberger in Frankfurt, boasts artists like Ricardo Villalobos, Binh, Mayaan Nidam, Baby Ford and Daniel Bell in its core crew; all of whom gathered at Berlin’s legendary Funkhaus to celebrate Superlongevity – the label’s 20th anniversary. Although it was billed as an extended party – a Perlon classic – the weekend was more like a small festival, with artists and attendees alike flying in from all over the world for this special event that ran non-stop from Friday 4 to Sunday 6 August. True to form, the timetable was unavailable before the event, and though it was posted around the venue, the unique graphic design made it easy to miss unless you knew what to look for. As such, the weekend remained, interestingly, a bit of a mystery, with attendees arriving without knowing quite what to expect.
The nighttime schedule took place indoors, in a huge warehouse-like complex in Funkhaus’ Shedhalle. DJs playing inside were challenged to make use of the space’s towering concrete pillars, high ceilings and vast expanse that played acoustic ticks. Friday night’s sets were safe under the hands of artists like Margaret Dygas and Binh. Both Dygas and Binh played a bit harder than usual, kicking things off in high gear before the outdoor stage opened with an emotive live set from Wareika.
Although label boss Zip played a few times over the weekend, his daytime DJ set on Saturday was a much-awaited slot. After a night dancing to bangers at the indoor stage, Zip’s more low-key, minimal start was welcome; but unfortunately the weather took a bad turn, and a sound complaint meant the rest of his set was underwhelmingly attended and annoyingly quiet – a problem that plagued the outdoor stage for the rest of the weekend. Soulphiction, James Dean Brown, Kalabrese and a strong live set from Mayaan Nidam followed suite at the inside stage on Saturday night.
The next morning began with a picture perfect DJ set from the Montreal-born minimal artist Akufen. Half Hawaii, the collaborative live act from Sammy Dee and Bruno Pronsato, was next and featured animated live guitar and vocals. Fumiya Tanaka, a Japanese producer and DJ known for his stripped back sound, played one of the weekend’s highlights: a decidedly honest and beautiful DJ set. DBX, the live moniker of Detroit icon Daniel Bell, was supposed to play outside but due to noise restrictions was moved indoors. This was perhaps a blessing in disguise; although we missed the sunshine, his set was by far the best of the weekend as he rolled out DBX classics and edits, the percussive beats and growl of his vocals right at home in the concrete warehouse. To end, Ricardo Villalobos closed things out in the way that only he can, starting out minimal and exploding into more pop-fuelled tunes like an edit of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax. It was a love it or hate it affair, a somehow fitting end to a weekend that proved that Perlon isn’t for everyone – and that’s the way they like it.