“Real art is judged against an inner standard, not what’s out there.” So said Fred Peterkin, aka Fred P, to Richard Brophy of Juno Plus recently. He was speaking on identity in music, or a certain lack thereof in the promo hamster wheel. Fittingly, his own album as FP-Oner, released on Japanese label Mule Musiq, is impossible to judge based on any contemporary sounds, but must be assessed on its own merits. The term deep house may now be meaningless, much like any other genre name, but this album is full of house that is unmistakeably deep.
Resident Advisor’s Will Lynch described Fred P’s music as “hazy, colorful [sic] and alive with raw emotion”, and that is just as true of his work under this new guise. In the same interview, P told Lynch that his earliest productions, as a teen, involved experimenting with tapes and white noise: “If you listen closely to white noise, there’s things in there… it’s some weird cosmic thing.” That cosmic essence is just as present in 5, an album that is immersive, wholly engaging and that demands your attention. The seeping patterns of its artwork and the grandeur of each track’s title seem to express a great theme, a larger vision, and across 11 lengthy tracks Peterkin manages that in a manner both perambulatory and succinct.
‘In The Mist of Sunrise’ starts the album with plodding, straightforward percussion, rattling shakers and subtle bass, while a simple framework of eye-opening synths dances about as if to express wonder at the titular experience. Equally wondrous piano improv floats through, a sort of prologue to the melody that drifts throughout the album. ‘Manifestations Taking Place’ brings about a dreamlike world, its haunting chords and floating Rhodes work colliding with crash cymbals and gentle nods of bass.
‘The Law of Correspondence’ is a clear standout, its vibrant arpeggios both interstellar and Balearic, fraught with tension resolved only by a superb house section some four minutes in. This back and forth continues across a wondrous 11 minutes without ever feeling forced or stretched. Similarly unresolved are the ‘Cycles of Life’, which seem to roll and shuffle along for eternity. ‘The Realm of Possibility’ seems to be a colossal street party, all dynamic percussion and gated vibes (pun not intended), and ‘Platinum Soul’ goes into an even deeper mode, one almost devoid of melody but full of soft claps, gentle cymbals, and squelching patterns, submerged in liquid metal. It’s a particularly playful point, joyous rather than longing. On a gloriously different tip to what came before, ‘Sleepless In Shibuya’ hints not at any forced exoticism but instead suggests an otherworldly insomnia induced by the welcome terrors of an international DJ schedule. 5 is reportedly the first in a trilogy (with 6 and 7 to come), so perhaps this shift in mood could signal a new direction to come. Whatever may follow, one can bask in this slick gloop for some time to come.