- In September, Call Super released a 7-inch, Arpo Low, which preceded his latest LP. The records were accompanied by ink drawings—150 of which are displayed on his website—whose sharp blacks and fleshy pinks depicted geometric shapes, animals, bodies and heads. Some portraits had telltale phrases like "yea on one" and "quick lie down am good." The drawings captured, however ambiguously, clubbing's fleeting, easily forgotten experiences. With Arpo, Call Super, AKA Joe Seaton, renders techno in ways that seem similarly elusive. Speaking to Will Lynch earlier this year, he described his signature as a mix of parts that are "slightly unfinished" and "highly finished." In other words, imperfections and disruptions—rusty one-shots, thunderous echo, machine malfunctions—are as key to Seaton's style as, say, the rambling yet intricate melodies that help give his music form.
The LP is an oblique portrait of an uplifted state, one that, as Seaton recently observed, tends to emerge in the hours after a euphoric one. (The video for "I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Mirror," where Seaton's cousin and her friends film random bits of their night out, speaks to a similar idea.) It was made during a more "stable" period in Seaton's life; his last full-length, Suzi Ecto, on the other hand, alluded to death, paranoia and ecstasy. Writing recently about his studies of Cuban music, Seaton said: "Many of the influences I feel most keenly come from... personal, imagined realms." Though Arpo draws from Seaton's private life, its heady daydream vibe is open and accessible.
Woody percussion, reflective chimes, rubbery bass and computer blips percolate throughout the LP, as do a set of subtle themes. One is liquid, which trickles through "Korals"'s crunchy percussion, "Any Pills"'s android chirps and "Ekko Ink"'s hand drums. (At the end of "Music Stand," you can hear what sounds like a rock falling into a pool of water.) Another is a sense of structural order—the LP's first five tracks are apparently condensed versions of the next six. The warm clarinet of David Seaton, his father, is prominent on "Arpo," "Arpo Sunk" and "Out To Rust," marking the beginning, middle and end of the LP.
Arpo's slipperiness, though, is its defining feature. The drums are ooze-like. The LP's tracks are lush with melody, but they rarely keep their shape. On "No Wonder We Go Under," keyboard figures twirl and scatter as if carried by a breeze. Bleepy trills and glissandos drip at random onto "I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Mirror." It's during this section, where the tracks unwind and wander, that the LP is less appealing. If Arpo's two halves are meant to take you on the same journey, then the second might equate to the scenic route. But, in revisiting many similar-sounding landmarks—dewy atmospheres, shimmery riffs, liquefied drums—some tracks here pass by in a blur.
A lean approach guides Arpo's first half, a string of nimbly beautiful tracks that are among Seaton's finest. "Korals"'s claps and echo effects take the foreground, with pads and keys lightly applied. On the next track, "OK Werkmeister," slender noises orbit a simple bass drum pulse. "Music Stand"'s use of space is one of the LP's most affecting passages. Insect-wing flutters, cricket chirps, chimes and woodblocks evoke a celestial garden. This purr then gives way to a gliding arp, whose crystalline tones suggest a quiet but profound elation. It's a moment to savour.
03. OK Werkmeister
04. Music Stand
05. Any Pill
06. Arpo Sunk
07. Ekko Ink
08. No Wonder We Go Under
09. I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Mirror
11. Out To Rust