Mother Perera does her own thing. She is an entity unlike any other. The London-born, Berlin-based experimental bass singer/producer/DJ famously collaborated alongside Oren Gerlitz and Robert “Robot” Koch during a productive stint in the dubby breakbeat project Jahcoozi. She’s the one in the middle of the bizarre human-spider collage cover art for Jahcoozi’s 2010 full-length Barefoot Wanderer, a striking image that cannot leave the mind after it has been witnessed.
Yet, it was on her own that Sasha Perera’s creativity took flight, crafting deep, dark solo works of what many critics came to call doom-folk. On the back of her stellar 2013 solo debut Everlast and its 2017 follow-up All of This, Perera essentially crowned herself the queen of doom-folk, where she reigns alone.
Produced over the pandemic years, Home sees Perera Elsewhere going somewhere else. Toning down the doom-folk angle, Perera grounds the sound of her third album closer in line with the vibe of her DJ sets, aiming for more rise than fall in the mix. Where her earlier doom put silver linings on grey clouds, there’s more meat in these gym mats, equally as cerebral with a touch more cushion. She appears freer on this album, unburdened by expectation, able to simply be and create.
Of course, she can’t help being a little creepy on Home. It’s in the foundation. Perera Elsewhere’s vocals on the opening track, “Delete”, have a certain buzzing quality, seemingly recorded through a ribbon mic threaded with the wings of corpse flies. Her voice is perfect for a digital reimagining of classic trip-hop, enhancing any murky cyberpunk-noir feel, so it is wonderful that she still goes there.
With its booming, distorted subbase rumble settling ominously under haunting vocal and piano melodies, “Stranger” sounds like doom incarnate. This largely instrumental track has such a malevolent presence, a haunting atmosphere as thick and creepy as fog, in the Stephen King sense.
A similar sound palette is explored in the two-part instrumental opus, “Der Wurm 1” and “Der Wurm 2”. The first part nimbly plays with tension in space, while the second comes off more compressed if vaguely anxious, but together they forge one of the album’s most progressive and evocative moments. They showcase Perera’s impeccable, evolving tastes as much as her skills in Ableton Live production.
Perera Elsewhere doesn’t stay in the glorious gloom, though. She never seemed to truly embraced the term doom-folk anyway. As cool as it sounds, the term never entirely captured the staggering depth and triumphant nuance of her experimental bass explorations, and she goes farther out there than ever on Home.
Perera Elsewhere sounds positively righteous on “Hold Tite”, warning her enemies not to fuck with her over a surging, distorted George Kranz beat. “Who I Am” is supremely cerebral, with Sasha’s vocals digitized and ambient over a horn and organ-laden boom-bap beat giving it shades of Massive Attack, while the impactful “HKW” is a tribal progressive breakbeat instrumental that sounds at home next to James Holden & The Animal Spirits. Neither of them is particularly spooky, and they don’t need to be. They successfully add new layers to her mythology.
Closing the album, “Translate Optimiser” has a rather carefree island feel, with its dubby bass, echoing guitar, and truthful, poetic lyrics showing Sasha at her smoothest on vocals. It feels like a bit of a nod to her Jahcoozi days, putting out a sense of knowing oneself and feeling centered.
All of Perera Elsewhere’s albums have been released on Friends of Friends Music, the taste-making imprint for contemplative electronica which has been her home since her debut. It may seem like a minor detail, but that’s just one of the ways in which Home feels as safe and familiar as it does intimate and meaningful. While many were stuck at home during the pandemic, Sasha seems to have found hers in so many ways.