Thursday, May 17, 2007

SEEFEEL: Quique (Redux Edition) (Too Pure)

SEEFEEL
Quique (Redux Edition)
PURE194CD
Too Pure 1993 / 2007
18 Tracks. 123mins41secs




Buy it: CD
Too Pure

Riding high on the wave created by earlier nineties indie luminaries such as My Bloody Valentine, Seefeel took the concept of cloudy guitar-led music, once labelled shoegaze, a reference to the recurring tendencies adopted by most bands at the time to never look up, and brought it to an entirely different level by confronting it with the ambient sound pioneered by Aphex Twin, Global Communication and The Orb. Formed of Mark Clifford (guitar, sequencing), Sarah Peacock (guitar, vocals), Darren Seymour (bass) and Justin Fletcher (drums, programming), the band develop a totally unique blend of processed guitars, rhythmic loops and hypnotic bass, with occasional hazy vocals textures.

Following two impressive EPs, More Like Space and Pure, Impure, both published on London-based imprint Too Pure, Seefeel delivered their first album, Quique in the autumn of 1993, and went on to release two more albums, Succour, for Warp and (CH-Vox) on Richard D. James’s Rephlex before apparently disbanding, with Peacock, Seymour and Fletcher forming the gritty pop combo Scala whilst Clifford continued experimenting with ambient as Disjecta and set up his own Polyfusia imprint. Following occasional outings as Woodenspoon and Sneakster in the late nineties, he reappeared a couple of years ago with Running Tapper, a collaborative effort with electronic musician Simon Kealoha.

Quique is considered by some to be Seefeel’s seminal record, and thirteen years after its original release, it remains a cutting edge record, sounding like very little else. Right from the onset of the cyclic Climatic Phase #3, the tone is set. Guitars are stretched, layered and looped over a groovy bass line and a slow moving rhythm pattern to form a dense sonic mass which seems to absorb everything in its path yet appears utterly delicate and eerie. This formula is developed over the course of the whole album with various degrees of intensity, from the warm waves that come crashing over the beat-less shores of Imperial, the fresh breeze blowing over Through You or the dark isolationist tones of Signals to the enigmatic fog of Polyfusion, Industrious or Plainsong, on which Sarah Peacock’s gossamer presence is rendered in delicate layers over the dense sonic backdrops of each piece as her voice is worked into the fabric of the music.

This new version comes with an additional CD featuring three rare tracks and no less than five previously unreleased songs and mixes all recorded during or around the album sessions. Clique, which opens this second part, displays some similar structures than those heard on the original album, yet the sound appears rougher and more angular, especially on the drums, which although placed in the background, emerge over the melting wall of guitars, bass and voice, and while Is It Now? and Silent Pool are dense and dark, in some way pre-empting the introvert structures of (CH-Vox), the blatantly ambient My Super 20, with its ever-changing drone, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Global Communication’s influential 76:14. Elsewhere, Come Alive (Climatic Phase #1) slowly builds momentum over its course, at times echoing the end section of Minky Starshine, featured on the band’s Pure, Impure EP. Time To Find Me, which originated on More Like Space, together with the Avant Garde Mix of Charlotte’s Mouth and the Overnight Mix of Climatic Phase #3 are presented in stripped down version, revealing the intrinsically dubbey structures of the band’s approach in all its glory.

Although they only released three albums and four EPs proper between 1993 and 1996, Seefeel have created an incredibly consistent and influential body of work. Quique captures the band at the turning point between the guitar-led abstract indie pop of their early days and the more textural sound of Succour and (CH-Vox). With this album, Seefeel combine ethereal guitars, which find its source in the work of the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine, with technique used by the pioneers of electronic music to produced one of the most fascinating records of the early nineties, and one that continues to captivate and inspire. The additional material collected on the second CD only serves to underpin the importance of the band’s work and how visionary and unique Seefeel were.

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