You could probably have flagged Joe Seaton’s creative roots from a quick glance at the chalky impasto cover on ‘Suzi Ecto’ – his debut LP for Houndstooth, a label he helped inaugurate with it’s flagship release last year. This alongside imagery of young dogs feeding on the inside sleeve and stills from the DIY video montage released for track ‘Sulu Sekou’, its clear that art courses through his lifeblood. His mother descends from a long line of painters and his father (who performs oboe & clarinet on this record, and also painted the cover art) is a long-time artist, having once taught at Central Saint Martins.
Meticulous with every step of the way, this record is a high-brow experience through and through. Written across New York, Berlin and London over an extended period of time, it couldn’t be made more clear that this man spends a lot of time with his work. Every piece of music is cool, calculated and engineered with careful precision.
Seaton’s curious viewpoint has become increasingly rich and texturally dense, taking a different tack with each and every release. The Berlin based artist described this record himself as “simply…Techno” but it’s considerably more low key than the left-of-centre Outsider-House and contemporary Techno burners that he has graced Houndstooth and The Trilogy Tapes with under guises Call Super and Ondo Fudd to date.
Eerie keys are plastered across a layers of field recordings on the short entrance composition ‘Snipe’, to set a moody tone for what’s to come. The aforementioned ‘Sulu Sekou’ has a Japanese air about it. Calm and pensive, it’s like a score to a bonus level exploring a dojo in some long forgotten platform game. The unexpected appearance of a clarinet, performed by his father D. Seaton is one of the most wholesome features of the whole record. It cuts through electronic patterns with an clean organic sweep, that could never be replicated with technology.
Tracks like ‘Dovetail’ and ‘Hoax Eye’ have more of a structured backbone and act as show-pieces for Seaton’s sound design skills. The former is a melodic affair, it reels you in with perfectly poised kicks and little embellishments that unfurl as it progresses. The latter is more organic. The atmosphere is thick as lightning crashes unpredictably, strings and saturated droplets clammer atop a staunch bass line.
‘Raindance’ is packed with flourished sounds and has bit of everything in there – bongos rhythms, fleeting lasers and the occasional high pitched steel key keep you guessing whilst a voice mumbles, “see the rain” and the tide washes in along the shore. Random electronic patterns do a dance of death while the oboe croons high on ‘Okko Ink’. The most frantic track on the record, it’s jagged but retainins a bizarre melody. It’s much more sporadic than its instrumental counterpart – ‘Sulu Sekou’. The final track, ‘Acephale I’ is a stripped back re-work, or the original version (it doesn’t really matter) of ‘Acephale II’ which was issued earlier this year. Ditching the dance-floor appeal, this version takes an industrial route that climaxes in a heavy spout of steam from which a tamer version of that familiar melody is born again for the final act and curtain call.
Despite what the majority of Houndstooth’s output may interpreted as thus far, ‘Suzi Ecto’ isn’t strictly club music. It’s much more interesting than that. This is a record that you will be able to play back and engage with time and time again without ever tarnishing its original impact. Whether it be for ambient bedroom listening or cranked up for a slightly more adventurous club audience, it’s wholly emotive and packed with feeling. Call Super has found a sweet spot between challenging and highly listenable, and in the process he’s likely made one of the albums of the year.
‘Suzi Ecto’ is out on vinyl and digital now, order it here. The official album launch takes place at Fabric this Friday.