Available on: Punch Drunk LP
A first listen to Jarvik Mindstate, Tom ‘Peverelist’ Ford’s debut album, can leave a listener cold. It’s not a record that wears its heart on its sleeve, and it’s surely no coincidence that the album appears to take its name from Robert Jarvik, the American scientist who developed the Jarvik-7 artificial heart.
Like the Jarvik-7, Jarvik Mindstate is a technical miracle that nonetheless can seem to lack an essential warmth and humanity. But of course what Robert Jarvik proved – if it needed proving – was that the human heart was not our “feeling” organ. A man with an artificial heart is just as capable of emotion as one with a healthy, natural ticker – just ask the guy who died 120 days after a successful first transplant. So it is with Jarvik Mindstate: its pneumatic functionality doesn’t prohibit emotion, it just re-locates and re-contextualises it. Listen to Jarvik Mindstate properly, repeatedly, and you’ll find it full of love, hope, pain, anger, frustration – the whole gamut of human emotions both petty and profound. Trust me, there’s more than enough feeling going on here.
The most immediate tracks are inevitably those that are most familiar: the ectoplasmic synths of ‘Esperanto’ have enlivened many a DJ set and podcast in the past 12 months, and both the gushingly futuristic ‘Clunk Click Every Trip’ and ‘Infinity Is Now’ – arguably Ford’s finest achievement to date – were originally released as singles in 2008. Of the new cuts, ‘Revival’ updates – and redeems – Bristol’s trip-hop legacy in one fell swoop, while the sparse smokers’ techno of title track ‘Jarvik Mindstate’ is enlivened by its jaggedly funky garage syncopation. The signature skidding drums and cyclical synth-patch patterns of ‘Not Yet Further Than’ make it perhaps the most typical Peverelist track in the collection, and it’s among the best.
Ford’s ability to mix up loose British soundsystem vibes with taut, metallic techno tropes is awe-inspiring, but the man never forgets – and nor should we – that jungle got there first. You can really hear Peverelist’s d’n’b DNA bubbling to the fore on tense roller ‘Yesterday I Saw The Future’, and indeed, his best work has the same “urban sci-fi” impulse of Krust, Photek et al.
Jarvik Mindstate is an underground concern and proud to be so; it’s unlikely to win Peverelist many new fans. But for those attuned to the producer’s unique sensibility, it clunks, clicks and trips just right.