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White Noise: Call Super - Black Octagons

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Call Super - Black Octagons

Label: Houndstooth

Since JR Seaton’s stylish The Present Tense inaugurated Fabric’s Houndstooth, the label has gone from strength to strength. Specialising in the darker hues of UK dancefloors, standout releases from the likes of Akkord and Special Request have brought the label a great deal of attention, thanks in no small part to the curatorial expertise of Electronic Explorations’ Rob Booth. It’s been a rich and engaging year for the label so far, but its blueprint sound – darker atmospheres, technoid mutations and unsettling ambience – were all there in Call Super’s classy first release, which showed off a producer with an uncommonly dextrous grasp over atmosphere and structure. While the likes of Threshing Floor are still lighting up dancefloors around the country, with his sophomore outing Seaton has done one better; issuing the kind of refined EP you could only expect from a producer at the top of his game.

Informer / Dewsbury Severance / Black Octagons

There are a couple of key features which make Seaton’s productions stand out from the crowd. The first is the tasteful interplay of light and dark textures, often divided between rough, compressed percussion and fragile, aqueous synthwork. This contrast works a treat, but it wouldn’t be nearly so engaging without the Seaton's other talent: his masterful sense of structure, as he builds a strong percussive section, swaps it out for ghostly melody and then fuses the two for a thrilling climax.  Opener Informer is a perfect example of these qualities coming into play. Beginning with a crushed kick/clap combo, delicate pads are brought in to fill the white space, adorned by an array of supple atmospheric details. Midway the beats give way to a low bass snarl, followed by the unexpected addition of tight snare rolls, not unlike those heard in Chicago’s footwork scene. It’s an intoxicating combination, and when the kick returns Seaton has already won, a mysterious techno triumph aimed to stimulate both the body and the mind.

Follower Dewsbury Severance arrives fully formed, lying on a bed of hissing static mist. For these five minutes Seaton allows himself to ply those fathoms-deep atmospheres, as the hushed piston-kick rolls under aquatic bass hits and seductive synthnotes. Finally on the title track Call Super claims the hat-trick, as a coiled techno thump is eroded by detuned melodies and a wandering bassline, culminating in a perfect display of controlled chaos which brings the track shuddering to a dramatic, dubby halt. A heavenly ambience takes hold, stray scifi bleeps leading to the drum pattern’s welcome resurfacing. The Present Tense showed an unrivalled promise of control and atmosphere, but the interplay of textures and mature composition of these three tracks is stunning, leading the listener down a murky rabbit-hole from which he will not gladly return.


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