London-based producer Sei A (a.k.a. Andy Graham) has had a brief, albeit prolific career spanning back to 2008. In that time, he's put out two albums and a handful of singles that riff on the darker side of electronic dance music. Flux, his latest release, is no different, offering four densely rhythmic tracks that explore a characteristically bleak industrial soundscape.
The EP opens with "Flux (Martyn's Electromagnetic Remix)." Firing on all cylinders from the get-go, the remix features aggressive drum programming, a tough synth line, and sharp jabs of 8-bit digital warbling. A cut-up vocal sample provides an occasional blip of humanity, and Martyn stretches this over the mix with dub effects that cause it to ricochet around like a phantom singjay. Lending additional weight to the mix is a subtle bassline that constantly repeats in the background. Unfortunately, the disparate elements never really come together to create a memorable track. Furthermore, the cut's heavy-handed over-reliance on 8-bit sounds becomes monotonous as the track wears on.
Next up is "Break the Pattern." Easily the strongest cut on the EP, it sees Graham moving in a more straightforward techno direction. It's the kind of cut that sacrifices melody to deeply explore rhythm. Utilizing rumbling blasts of mechanical noise and a huge kick sound, the track crafts a speedy journey across a broken four-on-the-floor. He creates a sense of dynamics in the track through smart usage of synthetic klaxons and rising dissonant chords.
The second b-side is the original mix of "Flux." Similar to Martyn's remix but less dancefloor specific, the track has a floating quality to it that feels more laid back. In this version, the 8-bit tones drift through the mix while muted organ chords intermingle with chopped and re-pitched vocal snippets. The most noticeable difference between the two versions is the drums, which feature much less prominently in the original. As such, the vocals and 8-bit bloops to take center stage, which is unfortunate, as both effects come off as tired and overused. Ultimately, what's left is a decent track, but one that's not particularly original.
Finally, the digital version of the EP comes with a bonus track, "Jus Appreciate." Decidedly lighter fare than the rest of the release, on it Graham finds himself exploring territory closer to tech-house. Skipping along with a four-on-the-floor, Graham creates a nervous atmosphere with a closed hi-hat line and moody chords. Unfortunately, the track suffers from similar shortcomings as others on this outing. The hook of the song is a spoken word sample that talks about "the sweet spot" of a record, "the bridge or some incredible melody or hook." Flipping between high octaves and low octaves, the voice mutates its shape, sounding at times like Marcellus Wallace and at others like the backing track to Newcleus' "Jam On It." The snippet doesn't add much, and instead makes the whole thing bizarrely self-referential.