Call Super ‎– Arpo

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Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
HTH080 Call Super Arpo(2xLP, Album) Houndstooth HTH080 UK 2017 Sell This Version
HTH080 Call Super Arpo(CD, Album) Houndstooth HTH080 UK 2017 Sell This Version
HTH080 Call Super Arpo(Cass, Album) Houndstooth HTH080 UK 2017 Sell This Version

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November 23, 2017
referencing Arpo, 2xLP, Album, HTH080

The freest iterations of electronic music exist outside of time and space; untethered, and without obligation to subject itself to confinement. The most eccentric versions defy conventional structures, opting instead for nuanced sounds that hum and hiss alongside choppy beats. Still, other albums in this space exude a sense of purpose; a predestined expressivity made possible by the sum of its smaller, organic parts. What, then, can be made of work that holds each of the above qualities at once all while subtly morphing and selectively shifting points of focus?

It is remarkably difficult to find a reference point for the music of Joseph Seaton, the Berlin-based Londoner whose work under his Call Super moniker has been met with growing critical acclaim. His new record, Arpo, seems to bear a resemblance to early Aphex Twin or Autechre, while the intermittent damp, lugubrious textures might call to mind Boards of Canada. These similarities, however, are just that and nothing more; the idiosyncrasies that lie within his abstract impressions of techno and dance music are distinctly his own, and aren’t directly derived from any of the scenes or genres that might inform his productions. Instead, Seaton eschews contemporary styles that may border on myopic or predictable, as well as “retro” electronic that leans toward antiquated, and relies on the slick pairing of electronic instrumentation with reedy woodwinds, oboes, and clarinets. Arpo, the creative fulfillment of a lonely artist’s contemplations, strikes a timeless, unique, and deeply satisfying chord.

From the onset, its songs and the sounds inside them establish an intricate tug of war; the haze of a nervous undercurrent fights with crisp, bouncing melodies for a place in view. The result is a cohesive, wandering whole that is as unpredictable in its movements as it is uncertain in moods. A heavy dose of ambiguity is not an accident, but rather a firm commitment to establishing a breadth of possibilities to its audience- originality and purpose go hand in hand here. Thematically, Call Super’s sophomore effort aims to capture the essence of his early morning walks back from his shows- while the world is calm yet undoubtedly alive- but at times even that narrative fades away beneath the flutters and blips in the background. It’s music that was made to get lost in.

In Seaton’s eyes, the interactions between his listeners and his albums extend beyond the sonic makeup of a given track; details like the physical layout of his LP’s and cassettes can enhance and alter the experience, while also creating opportunities for juxtaposition, contrast, and parallelism. In this record’s case, the A and B side start with an identical, smooth progression- opening track “Arpo”, tiptoes into foreign territory, only to give way to a punch of low-end bass and eerie atmospherics, while the longer “Arpo Sunk” is fleshed out and dialed back, helped along by the murky clarinet and oboe played by his father David Seaton, a fellow artist and painter. The disorienting feeling introduces a shift from the succinct nature of the early tracks to stretched out thought-pieces like “Ekko Ink” and “I Look Like I Look in a Tinfoil Mirror”, both of which spiral in a whirlwind of repetition before turning in on themselves and fading to quiet noise.

Scattered throughout are not only appearances of jazz instruments, but reminders of how much the genre helped nurture Seaton’s creative process. Songs showcase freedom in the ways that layers of the arrangement move seamlessly around one another without restriction; any instrument can move up or down in the mix without warning, establishing a kaleidoscopic quality to the textures of the music. As the blissful “Music Stand” comes to an end, the lush chimes of a melody die out and collide with cascading remnants of an uneven rhythm, bleeding together like a trail of fresh ink smudged across a page. The closer, “Out to Rust”, builds steadily through a mélange of off-beat ambience, until the distorted squeals of his father’s reedy playing pass through a lens of paranoia and are refracted outward. Not for the first time, confusion abounds as the unassuming soundscape creates unease and comfort in tandem.

The totality of Call Super’s second album is a product of its creator’s open-minded and instinctual approach. Club-ready pulses are traded in for foggy and cerebral ruminations stretched across a mere forty-five minutes- an efficiency made possible only by a supremely pragmatic architect of sound. Arpo manages to meander while simultaneously having fluidity and a sense of direction. It feels alive, never standing still as it moves through its myriad transformations. Like waking up from a vivid dream, the inevitable snap back to reality leaves traces of the journey left behind. The unmistakeable sense that we’ve gone somewhere, escaped, and been better off because of it.

From Reid Botkin’s Album blog