SETH Chick on the Moon

[UNO NYC; 2013]

Styles: acid rain, Ziploc bags, glass shards
Others: Gobby, James K, The Cocteau Twins, Broadcast

Earlier this year, an incredibly far-reaching but aesthetically precise mix was compiled and released by Gobby and James K. Although disparate and qualitatively different, the tracks seemed to have a strange commonality when placed side by side. The surgical and needle-thin Clinic appears immediately before the terse and historicizing Wolfgang Voigt; elsewhere, Marcell Dettman and Shed as Deuce appear displaying raucous and cyclical techno. This mix could be read as a precursor to the grotesque, monstrously contorted artist that stands before us. With that mix, Gobby revealed all of his influences, where he’s been coming from the entire time. Gobby’s Fashion Lady album seemed to be more directly linked to these ideas, the thesis being to stitch together acidic and distraught textures with the linkage being significant whole forms, typically vocals or whole genres being strewn apart and then sent through the wood chipper.

Gobby’s two releases last year reads like a take on the current climate: the Lantern EP utilized the Reichian mechanisms of footwork to attack various modes of R&B and hip-hop, completely displacing those genres; Fashion Lady simply pulverizes techno with techno, applying the divergent styles of the genre to it. These smashed-up objects seem less like deconstructions and more like contortions of what was already there, a test of how flexible the structures are when the qualities are ripped up and draped over it.

Sidestepping the hideous and observational Fashion Lady, this new SETH project feels like a fever dream, the significant parts of the 90s cascading over the listener, showering them with images of acid wash jeans, D/V cameras, etc. The EP as a whole feels like The Cocteau Twins dropped inside of a Ziploc bag full of lotion and quarters and shaken — qualitatively speaking. Gobby’s work has always had a sloppy quality, grinding up extremely familiar particles, extracting the quantitative and minute parts, and watching the corpse of those signifiers ooze and thrash around. His brutalization of genres is fleshed out here, whereas before they were, or at least appeared to be, made up of wry pissings. “Haha’s” AOL “who’s who” list of samples running through a sandstorm of metal shards is quite reminiscent of Fashion Lady’s similarly confusing “Rashe,” with vocals and familiar sounds put on display only to be torn away. Despite how messy Chick on the Moon is, there are legitimately beautiful moments unlike anything Gobby has made before. It offers a sort of anxiety of forms, a smearing of history, Broadcast as applied to trip-hop, a sort of beautiful sail through acid rain, shards of glass flinging through.

My immediate assertion is that Chick on the Moon speaks to a sort of besides-the-point narrative. A vacuous commentary on the vacuity of chillwave, vaporwave, etc., with modern-day trollers Harmony Korine and Tao Lin being obvious reference points. But SETH, even more so than Gobby, seems to take the form of a problem child showing you a disturbing drawing with an all-too-knowing smile, exposing in the process the problems with genre and memory, but without an ounce of empathy. After similarly disassociating listens from Mykki Blanco and SFV Acid this year, SETH seems to have taken them all up on their observations.

Links: UNO NYC

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