Review: +Dome, Seekae
March 16th 2011
Nick La Rosa
Take your regular human brain. Slot a floppy disc containing your favourite MS-DOS games right down between the two hemispheres. Sandwich that between the screen and keyboard of your Macbook, preferably while running a buttload of music software, then stick all of this in a blender and switch it to turbo speed. If you pour the results back into your skull cavity and start composing music, it might end up sounding a lot like Seekae’s latest release, +Dome.
The album marks a clear departure from the trio’s 2008 debut album, The Sound of Trees Falling on People. +Dome is a much darker, moodier exploration into a more groove-based sound. While their trademark 8-bit synths and warm electronic charm and are still present, gone are the glitchy melodies and pop sensibilities, rendering this release perhaps less accessible than STFP.
The influences behind the album are worn on Seekae’s proverbial sleeve. Shuffled hihats on Two are reminiscent of Squarepusher and other Warp-era electronica, Yodal is moved forward by a relentless dubstep beat, and a chilled out approach to dance-inspired music links the trio with contemporaries such as Mount Kimbie and James Blake. But what separates Seekae from these contemporaries is their departure from cold, synth-heavy production. Within the sound palette of +Dome there appears to be a sense of something intrinsically human. In Reset Head, an otherwise electronic ambience is brought to life with a lazily strummed guitar, and the occasional dry click of a pair of drumsticks hit together. The processed and reverb-drenched sample in Two pops like cricket ball being hit around a room.
Perhaps the most engaging moment of this relationship between recorded and sequenced material is in the album’s last track, You’ll. The track begins with melancholic falsetto vocals layered over a simple guitar arpeggio. Halfway through the track, the voice and guitar are enveloped by a lush and spacious ambience, which closes the album on a bed of warbling synths and processed hihats. The interplay between live and sequenced drums and the balancing act of acoustic and electronic sounds leaves the feeling that behind those clouds of reverbed-out vocals, choppy samples and metallic synths, there are three regular dudes bobbing their heads along in unison to some pretty next-level beats.
With every listen, it seems there is another swell of buttery-rich synth, or a layer of glitch percussion you’ve never heard before. While +Dome may take a little getting used to for long time fans, it is unquestionably worth the weaning process. The attention to detail in its intelligent and restrained production make this album as addictive as sonic crack.