Call Super Suzi Ecto

[Houndstooth; 2014]

Styles: techno?
Others: Ondo Fudd, Objekt, OPN

Our actual existence, then, whilst it is unrolled in time, duplicates itself along with a virtual existence, a mirror-image. Every moment of our life presents the two aspects, it is actual and virtual, perception on the one side and recollection on the other … Whoever becomes conscious of the continual duplicating of his present into perception and recollection … will compare himself to an actor playing his part automatically, listening to himself and beholding himself playing.
– Henri Bergson, Mind-Energy

In a rather concrete way, the whole genre of techno (and really any kind of music founded on intense repetition of loops) is about exploiting the dual nature of Bergson’s time, its present perception and its contemporaneous, but already past, recollection. Each time that little eight bar slice of drums rolls around, the feelings of frantic, ecstatic repetition and unsettling déjà vu usually happen at the same time — “goddamn I love dancing to dance music.” In a sense, you could classify different takes on the genre by where they fall between these two poles. Artists like Voices From the Lake or Dino Sabatini take the recollected present to the extreme point of meditation, while Actress and Stellar OM Source tend to tweak things quickly and roughly, never staying in one spot for “too long.” The idea of simplifying it to that sort of binary naturally feels a little silly though, since the best techno releases generally tend to work the two against each other. JR Seaton’s Suzi Ecto succeeds for just this reason.

Since I’m reviewing a techno long-player, I’m supposed to make some sort of comment about how it bridges the theoretical gap between the club and bedroom/headphones/whatever, right? It makes sense, given how many artists botch the album thing on a regular basis by just going the banger-interlude-banger route or toning down their club sound into inoffensive nothingness, but Call Super is one of the few who doesn’t even need to distinguish between the two, creating a self-sustaining space so unique that the two collapse into each other. Unlike, say, Kassem Mosse’s brilliant record from earlier this year, Suzi Ecto isn’t just a collection of well-engineered cuts that work outside the dancefloor, but a world unto itself, full of unnaturally iridescent chimes and hissing, crunchy sound design. Its neon skylines work wherever, alien enough to remain interesting after the umpteenth listen but comforting enough to make you want to spin it that many times.

Seaton hits an elusive balance with each track, going neither the route of pure loops nor rough and ready improvisation. What results is something that can be surprisingly hard to find on dance albums: good editing. Since the track lengths are all generally around four minutes, they’re given just enough time to develop ideas to their fullest extent and then end once there’s nowhere left to go. He plays repetition against itself, adding in weird incidentals and one-shots to make his drum loops bloom into organic environs. When he brings in melodic elements, they’re always otherworldly and inviting, like the clarinets in “Okko Ink” or the sole use of a human voice in “Raindance.” Even when he veers the closest to straightforward club music on “Hoax Eye,” high-def, crisp sounds bounce around the stereo field, somewhat like the deconstructed grime of Strict Face’s “Fountains” from earlier this year. Since there’s no real distinction between “ambient” cuts and “club” tracks, everything exists on the same plane, catnip for both clever DJs and your friend who just found out about OPN.

If this were a usual review and Suzi Ecto a usual release, I’d probably spend time here trying to give you a sense of Call Super’s earlier releases/aliases and try to parse more of his influences and soundalikes. But the best part of this album is that such explanations are ultimately irrelevant. There’s just not enough Bergson quotes in the world to explain how immediately satisfying this thing is. It’s a techno album that actually works as an album, and it’s a damn good one at that.

Links: Call Super - Houndstooth

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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