With 2014 serving as something of a well-deserved victory lap for Asusu, Kowton, and Peverelist's banner Livity Sound imprint, replete with well-attended live shows featuring the three artists jamming together with often exciting results, 2015 saw Pev aka Tom Ford in particular seemingly rejuvenated in his production output. Issuing three EPs on the Livity label replete with snazzy new cover art alongside a split EP for Schmorgasbord Records, the label's move away from knotted fetish-adorned white labels towards the geometrically abstract and colorful labels for their 2014 run of remixes seemed to truly crystallize in the pretzeled humanoid figures that have since come to serve as the label's always-moving mascot. While other trend-forward labels like Hessle and Hemlock have always opted for contiguous design, a design choice that labels like Timedance and Mistry have put their own twist on, I've always been struck by Ford's focus on design with the Livity imprint when compared to the chunky, comically unpretentious font of his vanguard dubstep/post-dubstep label Punch Drunk. For while that label's circular layouts could be seen as something of a visual representation of the charmingly circuitous beats long favored by long-time junglist Ford, the steady evolution of the Livity visual style can be seen as something of a meta-commentary for its continued evolution.
In particular, looking at the 2015 redesign, the fact that the same white figure appeared on each cover in a different form against a brightly-colored backdrop seemed to serve as a nod to the fact that the label has long championed the creation of new forms from existing structures,. Not to mention that the hyper-contorted shapes seemingly acknowledged the pretzeled nature of the drum programming Ford has continued to develop. And as we've seen in our discussions with producers like Laksa, L.SAE, and Batu, the label and its farm league sister label Dnuos Ytivil have both been crucial in fostering a new type of forward mentality not so fixed on re-inventing the wheel as it is on pushing the outer edges of a whole slew of different wheels/genres into challenging new dimensions. Indeed, Livity's continued visual development can also be reflected in the refinement of the distinctly UK, technoid style Ford has long championed, with arguably more conventional results--though bright spots like last year's Simo Cell EP keep this listener tuning into every release nonetheless.
Half-hearted shade aside, 2015 was truly a banner year for two of the label's co-founders in particular, with both Ford and colleage Joe Cowton (aka Kowton) both releasing some of the most exciting music of their career (we'll get to Joe in a couple days). With his two other Livity twelves being collaborative affairs with Hodge and Kowton, when "Undulate" b/w "Grit" hit record store shelves in November of 2015, listeners were greeted with arguably some of Ford's most blissed-out material since 2013's Hodge collab "Bells." Much like that earlier track, the palpable influence of progressive house can be heard in the song's opening seconds as the Shepard tone-treated strobe light synths evoke a more palatable take on the loved-up trance so beloved the past two decades. As the producer adds some rhythmic-melodic structure in the shape of wooden mallet-emulating stabs, Ford patiently mixes in one of his techno-inflected rhythmic sequences, the snare remaining animated throughout, the track steadily, er, undulating in that main groove for a solid six-and-a-half minutes. Of course, this being the producer of such ascetic belters as "Roll With The Punches," Ford has always excelled at getting the most out of his often minimal assortment of compositional variables, introducing subtle counter-melodies and variating the drum sequence in the most nuanced and sensitive of ways.