Generally speaking, we attribute the birth of the dubstep genre to South London. One of the sound’s earliest adopters, however, was Bristol – nurturing and raising the newborn UK underground offspring like a teacher does with a student or parent with child. And while it’s hard to capture the phenomenon that is referred to as “Bristol Sound”, it is eminently clear that Peverelist paved the way for its adoption into the dubstep we know today. He shared his thoughts about the existence of this “Bristol Sound” in an interview with FACT in 2009:
“I don’t really think there’s a distinct Bristol Sound. The Bristol producers, from Pinch to Joker, each have completely different sounds. To me, the Bristol dubstep scene isn’t based around a sound – it’s more a social thing, a group of people who meet up and swap beats at clubs, and put on nights and run records labels.”
Tom “Peverelist” Ford embodies his own explanation. He used to work at Rooted Records (which, unfortunately, shut down in 2010), the meeting point of many artists involved in the early Bristol scene (much like Croydon’s Big Apple Records). Ford’s interest in dubstep sparked in 2004, when Mala’s tribute to John Peel aired on Radio 1. That experience (along with a few others) lead to the inception of a now-iconic platform for Bristolian producers, called Punch Drunk.
Ford released his own tunes on Punch Drunk (which we’ll return to later on), but as well as providing a canvas for Peverelist to paint on, Punch Drunk paved the way for artists like Gatekeeper, RSD, Gemmy, Guido, Ekoplekz, Kahn and Hodge. The imprint served as a means to document what was going on in the Bristol scene, ably illustrating the organic fluidity and the movements between (dub) techno, dubstep, twostep, grime and trip-hop.
As well as looking forward, Tom was able to highlight his inspirations Smith & Mighty with the releases from Rob Smith (RSD), documenting where the attitude that defines the Bristol sound is rooted: UK blues that became synonymous with the punk movement.
Prior to John Peel and Mala’s inspiration, the musical influences that shaped Ford came much earlier. He grew up in Hatfield Peverel, Essex, and was part of several bands there before he became devoted to jungle which, in turn, introduced him to electronic music. His connection to jungle and his childhood location also explains Ford’s first artist name, Hatfield Peverel Junglist Massive, which ultimately became Peverelist as he explains in an interview with Bristol24/7.
2006’s debut release Erstwhile Rhythm/ The Grind shows a unique take on the then-current state of dubstep. The techno-like fashion with which the sounds are treated remains central to Peverelist’s sound; appearing in all of his productions (however diverse they may be). Subtle drum metamorphoses suddenly speed up or slow down, while the introduction of melodic atmospheres may completely transform the track. One of the tracks to best illustrate this is the iconic Roll with the Punches but, as the 30 Minutes of… mix illustrates, there are plenty more examples to be found throughout his discography.
After hugely successful releases on Tectonic, Skulldisco and Idle Hands (both with and without Appleblim) in 2007 and 2008, Peverelist dropped his first album, Jarvik Mindstate, in 2009. The long-player is a beautiful contemporary piece that captures the significance of his sound, continuously mediating between different styles but still very much dubstep in its essence. It features the title track Jarvik Mindstate, the absolute stomper Revival with Pinch and the mesmerising Clunk Click Every Trip.
After 34 releases, Punch Drunk closed its doors (apart from an occasional repress of Roll with the Punches). In the same Bristol 24/7 interview, Tom:
“In a way it served its purpose. When I started it there were very limited outlets for Bristol producers. Since then everything has changed and there’s a plethora of really great labels just in Bristol releasing amazing dance music. I’d like to think Punch Drunk opened the door.”
This didn’t mean Ford’s creative aspirations stopped, though. In 2011, Livity Sound was born, showcasing Pev(erelist)’s sound alongside Asusu and Kowton which, unlike Punch Drunk, was vinyl-only. More than before, techno influences become apparent in the Peverelist sound – alongside a fair amount of jungle influences that can still be heard in his music. Aztec Chant is a good example.
Being responsible for connecting the old with the new, Peverelist has undoubtedly influenced the all of the artists to have signed or worked with his imprints. Zhou and Kahn were given a stage on Punch Drunk that, ultimately, may have lead them to set up the Young Echo collective. In summary,
Pev deserves praise for his efforts as the ‘godfather’ of the Bristol Sound. He has played an invaluable role in the Bristol underground bass scene – and should be equally praised for his musical genius – spreading such a unique sound beyond both national and genre-bound borders. To this day, the Bristol values are still resonating vibrantly.
Click to DOWNLOAD (78MB)
- Appleblim And Peverelist – Over Here [SKULL08, 2008]
- Peverelist – The Grind [DRUNK002, 2006]
- Peverelist – Not Yet Further Than [DRUNKCD002]
- Peverelist – Junktion [TEC019, 2008]
- Peverelist – Die Brücke [DRUNK005, 2007]
- Peverelist – Roll With The Punches [DRUNK005, 2007]
- Peverelist – Infinity Is Now [TEC019, 2008]
- Appleblim And Peverelist – Circling [SKULL08, 2008]