Most in the world of underground bass are privy to the DnB stylings of Run DMT. But the Dallas-based producer, who runs under real name John Robbins, has a new project that is guaranteed to leave those with bass-saavy tastebuds yearning for a different flavor. His newest alias, PPLPRSN, has just debuted a full-length studio album, what he’s calling Wrinkle, out now on his indie bass label Kill Your Ego Records.
True to it’s title, the album’s 11 tracks culminate in a psychedelic listening experience that becomes but a wrinkle in time. It’s ambient and organic, spacey and cinematic, time and space altering, completely immersive, and boundless in terms of which genre it belongs to. The truth is, it belongs to everything electronic and everything life-giving. Wrinkle is what creation is all about. In other words, it’s a creation about creation.
But here’s what makes Wrinkle so great: When taken as a whole — and trust that the album was meant to be taken as a whole — the entire project rests at the pinnacle of style and substance. Stylistically, the album is a masterpiece; nothing short of a sonic pastiche that is every bit as genre-shattering as it is well-versed in it’s generic range. Robbins pulls on everything from classical to electronic, evoking every musical element from ambient downtempo and extreme bass frequencies to uptempo nu school breaks and intricate polyrhythms.
Substantively, the album is smart and spiritual. Universal themes of circularity, life and death, spirituality, and mind expansion abound on the Wrinkle LP. Robbins plunges us into the present and keeps us buckled in, holding onto PPLPRSN’s every twist and turn. It will transport listeners into their deepest, darkest depths, before catapulting them to soaring, euphoric heights — if they’ll allow it, that is.
While the album was undoubtedly meant to be taken as a whole, let’s break it down into it’s smaller moving parts, at least for humor’s sake.
The album’s leading single, “The Ball Bounced Down The Hall,” is a foreboding 7-minute glitch-hop composition that stands as the project’s launching pad. Although it is only one piece to a larger puzzle, the track represents a sonic journey that paints a picture all on it’s own — one that builds tension and demands our attention. The album takes off from there by cycling between highly-stylized cinematic tracks, including “…And Then My Mind Became a Cave” and “The Beautiful Void,” and trippy ballads, “Oshun of Consciousness” and “Lazarus Experience.”
At this point, the album’s midpoint, is when listeners have become so entangled in thought, so brazened with emotion that they’ve begun to question the nature of their very existence. This is the turning point at which Robbins constructs a window into peering into the lighter, happier side of life. In “Time Horizon,” the producer builds a vibrant, chill downtempo soundscape that ups the ante around the 3-minute mark with soaring synths and rapidly rising tempos — all building toward a euphoric, danceable drop with groove appeal, melodic chord progressions, and funky bass lines.
“REM Sleep” pulls on multiple genres, with soulful R&B and hip-hop samples, spacey atmospheres, and upbeat tempos, all over a glowing, dream-like landscape.
The song feels a lot like waking up from a wonderful dream before being lowered again with the following track, “Literally Melting Clocks.” And here’s what makes Robbins’ album so great, is his ability to seamlessly guide listeners through emotional peaks and valleys with ease and care. A bell tower clock stroking midnight, over a ticking second hand, a muffled voiceover effect: “Time to wake up! Time to face the day! Time is the necessary illusion,” is what Robbins may be trying to depict.
So we arrive again at happiness in the following track, “Eudiamonia” — quite literally too with a early-on vocal sample that remarks “happiness” into an electro-tinged, synth-laden drop. What follows is a layer of funky uptempo buildups and breakdowns over a blanket of soothing piano progressions, a chilling background chorus line, whirlwind sound fx, and distorted harmonic synths. There’s so many musical elements converging on the track, but it never becomes chaotic. In all actuality, the track packs a powerful punch in how it all comes together to a beautifully complex degree.
As PPLPRSN says farewell to listeners in the closing track, “One Last Thing,” it becomes apparent that picking apart the LP piece-by-piece seems as about as fruitful and it is impossibly juvenile. At the end of the day, Wrinkle is a mosaic piece working together to tell a sonic story about the tapestry of life, of death, of darkness and light, and how it all becomes cyclical in the grand scheme of time. That sense of time, perhaps we cannot yet conceive.
Meticulously produced, wonderfully mastered, and musically well-rounded are all things to describe PPLPRSN’s debut album. Ultimately, the album becomes an guiding force into helping listeners truly begin to shed the ego, to reach a penultimate place of humility wherein we can appreciate our own mortality. At the same time, it is in this space where we come to realize that being merely human is what fuels our powerful will to live. Simply put, Wrinkle is John Robbin’s most groundbreaking creative project to date.
Stream PPLPRSN’s 11-track Wrinkle LP, out now via Kill Your Ego.