The main project of French musician James Kent, Perturbator is regarded as one of the leading acts of the synthwave scene which became popular during the 2010s. He rose to prominence near the beginning of the decade, with several releases which combined driving synths with dark, neon-streaked imagery equally inspired by vintage cyberpunk, horror, and sleaze. His profile was boosted when several of his songs were included in the Hotline Miami video games, and his ambitious 2016 concept album The Uncanny Valley ranked high in Billboard's Heatseekers Top Dance/Electronic Albums charts. He then shifted his sound in a more atmospheric, darkwave-influenced direction with his next full-length, 2021's Lustful Sacraments.
Born in Paris in 1993, James Kent is the son of noted rock journalists Nick Kent and Laurence Romance. He was given a Pantera album at the age of three, and a guitar at 11. After learning Tool and Slayer riffs on the guitar, he began writing his own music, but Mom and Dad's synth collection was also calling, and the younger Kent took to the keyboards with both metal and cyberpunk attitudes. He debuted his sound with the 2012 EP Night Driving Avenger while two albums, Terror 404 and I Am the Night, arrived that same year. The combination of retro-techno and aggression attracted the developers of the campy and violent video game Hotline Miami, who added Perturbator to contribute to the 2012 game's soundtrack. The Sexualizer EP followed in 2013. Finnish extreme metal label Blood Music issued Perturbator's concept LP Dangerous Days in 2014, then reissued most of his previous releases. Work on the Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number soundtrack followed in 2015, then Dangerous Days' story of a religion using technology to persuade followers was continued on the 2016 concept album The Uncanny Valley. The following year, Kent issued the electro-industrial-leaning EP New Model.
Two volumes of B-Sides & Remixes appeared in 2018, as Kent continued developing new Perturbator material. He collaborated with HEALTH that year, releasing the song "Body/Prison" in October. Kent appeared in the John Carpenter-narrated synthwave documentary The Rise of the Synths in 2019. Lustful Sacraments, a more guitar-driven, goth rock-influenced Perturbator full-length, arrived in 2021.