Posted on Jan 18th 2011 01:26 am
Warp Records 2011
09 Tracks. 51mins35secs
Fourteen years on from their last album, and with two new members on board, the return of one of the most highly regarded bands of the early nineties is something of a major event. Seefeel never actually split up, but its members had, since the release of (Ch-Vox) on Rephlex back in 1996, focused on various projects and appeared to have drifted apart in such a way that it seemed totally unimaginable to see them working together again. It is the release of an expanded version of Seefeel’s seminal debut album, Quique, by Too Pure in 2007 which brought Mark Clifford and Sarah Peacock back talking. Since, the band, now counting Shigery Ishihara, better known as DJ Scotch Egg, and Ilda ‘E-Da’ Kazuhisa, have performed a handful of live dates, including one in Paris as part of the Warp20 celebrations, and returned in September last year with a brand new EP, Faults, now followed by this new album.
One of the prerequisites of the band ever recording again was always to create something different from anything they had done before. While Faults was still built from extremely processed guitar textures, hypnotic bass lines and occasional ethereal vocal strips, Seefeel appeared to be displaying a much drier and splintered sound. Seefeel have indeed moved on from the vast atmospheric stretches of Succour and (Ch-Vox) to accommodate guitars in all their distorted glory once again. Of course, these are meticulously dissected, bent out of shape and processed before being applied, but while, on previous records, they were often drowned in thick layers of effects and looped into smooth and acutely polished soundscapes, they are here highly granular, distorted and rugged, as the short opening piece, O-on One, demonstrates. This is however much more developed on the following piece, quite aptly titled Dead Guitars. There is no doubting the provenance of the sound sources here, but the extent and intensity of the decay is quite impressive.
With Faults, Seefeel approach the notion of sonic decomposition from a very different angle. Perhaps one of their most minimal pieces to date, Peacock’s voice, layered as to give it a disturbingly ghostly aspect, is left utterly exposed, the guitars only positioned in sparse clusters throughout. A similar process is applied to the vocal part on Airless, but Peacock’s performance is placed much deeper in the mix, resonating radically differently. With dubbed guitars, hypnotic bass loops and straightforward rhythmic patterns, Rip-Run and Making sound much more familiar in comparison, harking back to the linear forms of Quique, the latter feeling momentarily strangely reminiscent of Plainsong.
Seefeel return to grainier textures with the two closing pieces, Aug30 and Sway, once again converting distortion and feedback into rough angular components, but they are here tempered by much softer soundscapes in the background, taking the edge off their jagged contours to render these compositions much dreamier.
Seefeel have for years been hailed as one of the best and most interesting band around, a position they assume here with aplomb. With this album, they have totally overalled their sound without losing its essence. The music is as hypnotic and ethereal as it was in the nineties, yet, it relies on much grittier sound sources and appears dirtier and more abstract. Still, this album is unmistakably Seefeel.
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