Livity Sound: Livity Sound
Livity Sound

Livity Sound provides a remarkable and comprehensive account of the forward-thinking work produced by the Bristol-based trio of Tom Ford (Peverelist), Joe Cowton (Kowton), and Craig Stennett (Asusu). Functioning as both a label, collective, and compilation name, Livity Sound gathers together all of the material issued to date on six twelve-inch releases as well as Pev & Kowton's “Raw Code” and “Junked” (released in early 2013 on Hessle Audio) and four new tracks (all collaborative efforts) by Pev & Kowton and Pev & Asusu.

Weighing in at nearly two hours, the collection's eighteen beatscapes are never less than very good and more often than not excellent. While the tracks' syncopated club grooves give the material a visceral dance music dimension, Livity Sound might better be described as sound system music, tracks designed for high-end playback capable of capturing the nuances the rhythm scientists have threaded into their intricate arrangements. The LS sound comes into immediate focus the moment Pev and Kowton roll out punchy beat percolations and sci-fi synth atmospherics in Cowton's mix of their “Beneath Radar,” a style brought to some degree of dread-fueled perfection in subsequent stunners by Kowton (“More Games”) and Pev (“Erosions”).

UK dubstep trainspotters will already be well acquainted with Ford's Punch Drunk label and his own releases, but Livity Sound pulls together multiple traditions—dubstep, of course, but techno, dub, funk, house, and jungle, too. The bubbly percussion patterns and hi-hats swirling through the opening minutes of Pev's head-turner “Aztec Chant,” for instance, call to mind Detroit techno while the snappy beat that kicks in thereafter adds some semblance of jungle fever. In addition to the dubby “Too Much Time Has Passed,” Asusu contributes a club banger “Sister” that gets its bounce from a thrusting house shuffle. On a more experimental tip, Pev & Asusu's “Surge” roars and whines like some unreleased stab at dance music by Pan Sonic, while Pev & Kowton's hypnotic “Junked” could pass for an intended fusion of early Kraftwerk and industrial music.

While Peverelist's name pops up most often (the seeming ringleader is credited with creating or co-creating twelve of the the eighteen tracks), Asusu and Kowton also acquit themselves admirably. That said, it's Ford tracks such as the dizzying “Livity” that stand out as the collection's most extraordinary. Conceived from the bottom up, the pieces repeatedly dazzle the listener with their rhythmic interplay and entice the ear with ornate detail, and the consistently high quality of the compilation material suggests that The Wire was justified in devoting the cover of its September 2013 issue to Livity Sound (in conjunction with Young Echo).

November 2013