Seabat Synthus

[Beer On The Rug; 2015]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: plastic ambience, MIDI textures, massage therapy
Others: 0PN, Bee Mask, Kraftwerk, Vangelis

Seabat, a Brooklyn duo that makes ambient music, don’t mess around when it comes to relaxation. They want you to relax. They want you to step out of the shower, feel the soft pale sun coming through the blinds and slide onto the massage table, completely naked. They want you to breathe deeply, and get ready. Here come the hands, smelling of lavender: oh so fucking soft. Time to get that Starbucks out of you, that Taco Bell, that car exhaustion. Life marches on, singing its little song of despair, but now — right now — the materiality of the world slips away into otherness, clear and shapeless, in an atmosphere like cut glass.

The first track off their new album, Synthus, is called “The Hot Dog Man.” It begins as if it were an outro, preparing us as we depart reality, getting off a subway stop to a part of the city we’ve never been before. Or, in alternative reality, our name — yes, our name — is being called from the mouth of a nurse, and we get up from our seat in the waiting room and walk down a corridor, as if being pulled along by invisible ropes, to a room. We find ourselves in this music, suddenly, in the late afternoon, as the shadows lengthen around a city plaza; the only person in the plaza, an immigrant with a hot dog stand, checks his T-Mobile Galaxy phone for a text from his wife, who just gave birth to twin girls.

During the middle of the second song, “Synthus Borealis,” a voice reassures us that we are “listening to Synthus.” Waves of pads subside, only to bloom into other warm textures. In this world, there is no such thing as a horizon. But there is a chair. And on the chair: a magazine. And in the magazine: an article. An article about being massaged, deeply, and embodying sound as you inhale, written by a professor in California. The article argues that sound, just like spacetime, contains whorls and vortices that distort it. These distortions wear down the chakras in our spine, depending on what kinds of sounds we are exposed to. That screechy subway ride? Not good. Construction workers, this professor writes, have the worst job, because they dump all sorts of cosmic trash into their system. And what’s worse: almost none of them practice yoga.

“Deep Synthus,” the last track, takes us into a microscopic space, where weird sounds embody weird, wobbling objects, and the world jiggles a little, as if we ate too much McDonald’s or were jumping on a pogo stick for too long. For a moment, we could be in Flatland. We could be a line in a series of interlocking isosceles triangles, or we could just be extremely relaxed, feeling the fingers of our masseuse as she moves toward our spine, whispering to us about energy leaks. The voices of a choir of female angels zoom in and out, with drums nowhere in site. Here, there be gooey drool on our mouths and the vibration of subatomic particles, robed in X-rays. Ten minutes in, a sound, coming from some distant galaxy or distant artery, approaches. The presence of global warming looms into the music like a shadow. Ambience does, after all, have its dark, disturbing side. You can’t see the light all at once. Sometimes too much bliss makes you wonder: is being removed from our location all that important?

After 19 minutes, there is one final hurrah, where a burst of horns comes in. But it only signifies the end. Back into the rocketship and over to the next galaxy. The massage is done. Who you are has vanished, along with other concepts. The end of the world has already happened. And tomorrow: a frappuccino at Starbucks, maybe a hot breakfast sandwich, and the A train into Manhattan.

Links: Seabat - Beer On The Rug

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