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  • Filed under: Review
  • 09/19/2013

Call Super Black Octagons

JR Seaton makes weird house music as Call Super. Just don't call it "outsider house." A cursory listen ticks the familiar boxes: rough-and-ready energy, haphazard fidelity, sounds that swim against the current he's eagerly describing. But a more intentional reading reveals that Seaton's sound has more in common with the early-morning ambience of Sweden's Aniara Recordings than anything with a bristly, after-hours vibe. Black Octagons, Seaton's latest for Fabric offshoot label Houndstooth, runs fluently from blistering drum offensives to stoned, molten drift. It sounds like he's playing games with himself, at a healthy remove from the expectations that have lately arisen around certain frequencies.

"Informer" leads with a deep-house drum-machine rhythm whose disruptive hits whiz by like bullets at a firing range. Call Super foregrounds roughed-up sounds, but those overdriven, brittle drums form a culvert over streams of mollifying sound design. Wet keys and rustling noises are mixed too low to ever take center stage, but their presence is enough to subliminally guide the experience from what seems a mournful distance. These three tracks would be overtly accessible and probably less effective if the polarity was flipped, allowing the elliptical melodies and streams of synth babble to take the lead. Instead, Black Octagons wears its garment inside out, the logo across the chest a ghostly backward message we can mostly guess at from the way the fabric is puckered. Even as its snares thwack against the listener's skull, "Informer" and the final title track purposefully unite dubby space and rhythmic drive. "Dewsbury Severance" makes use of the same technique to somewhat different ends, slithering along as elegantly as an Actress track. The other cuts' belligerent thrust is replaced by a more subtle sense of motion here, with Call Super tricking divergent sounds into working toward a common goal. He makes up for its sluggish pace with a sense of heavy momentum, like a frozen river breaking up during a hazy spring thaw.

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