On the surface, the two versions of "Bells" that appear on each side of the latest Punch Drunk 12" do precisely what their titles suggest. "Bells (System Mix)"—which has been kicking about in mixes for a few months now—is fully geared-up for club scenarios, a production driven by thick sub-bass hits designed to create chest-rattling low-end pressure. "Bells (Dream Sequence)," meanwhile, is a more sedate and ethereal take on the same theme, one which trades the bass weight for muted house rhythms and melodic synth chords. There is, of course, more to it than that, though. Few producers can experiment with low end quite as skillfully as Peverelist, and his ability to finesse every part of the frequency spectrum turns this collaboration with rising Bristolian talent Hodge into something far more fulfilling than merely a club track with an accompanying headphone mix.
The beauty of "System Mix" lies in the sharp contrast between its oppressive, full-bodied bass tones and ultra-minimal top end. Playing it through any sort of powerful soundsystem reveals the precise separation of the thick 808 bassline and the fragile, washed-out melodic parts that drift in and out over the top. It's the dynamics of classic dubstep pushed to their most refined extremes, and the result is a tune that feels raw and minimal—thanks in part to its wonderfully spartan, driving drum-machine rhythm—yet packs a devastating amount of dancefloor power.
"Bells (Dream Sequence)" also has plenty going for it. The b-side trades the low- and high-end contrast on the flip for a densely complex melodic core that ebbs and flows over the steady thump of a house beat. Peverelist and Hodge use the mix to flesh out their delicate synth melodies, reimagining the a-side as a slow-burning work of low-key dance music underpinned by a deep, sparse sub. It's a subtle rework, but one which brings out certain nuances of the synth melody that are easy to overlook in the original. Separately, both versions of "Bells" hammer home just how much talent there is between its two creators; as a whole, Pev & Hodge's 12" is a demonstration of the primary strengths of British dance music circa now.