On the heels of only three EPs together as Sepalcure, it's hard not to get caught up in the gimme fever for Praveen Sharma and Travis Stewart's debut album under the moniker. Stewart's already released one of the year-end stalwarts as Machinedrum in Room(s) and Sharma reinhabited his Braille guise for another stellar EP of haunted step-house for Hotflush, but a new album on Scuba's imprint is in and of itself always a calendar-marker.
As the dubstep/bass music continuum continues to splinter, recombine and reinvigorate itself via open-armed embraces of British yesteryears and current curios like 2-step, grime, jungle, footwork, ambient recline, big-eyed rave and house, Sepalcure—unsurprisingly, given the duo's history both collectively and in separation—seems to string all of these timbres and sub-sub-genres into a physically and emotionally bewitching take on post-everything dance music. Though most of their tracks are constructed around disembodied vocal samples, Sepalcure aren't working with the gas-soaked rag atmospheres of an artist like Burial; their mesmerism's more reliant on trad house samples, used not as psychedelic blurs but for their direct emotive appeal.
The Who-nicking "See Me Feel Me," for example, elongates those voices into a fuzzy choir of sorts beneath its ambient-dub churn and guitar samples, while "Carrot Man" almost resembles a dubstep take on a marketer's chant from a dusty bazaar. "Me," meanwhile, with its frenetic drum & bass clatter and hazy melodic tones is a top-spun bit of hyperkinetic soul music, and lead single "Pencil Pimp" splices its vocal samples into what almost sounds like a child crying out for his dinner, ranged in rapid repeat against fluorescent synths and jumpy juke beat.
Elsewhere, the duo explores degraded dub-wobble in the woozy, clattering grime of "Yuh Nuh See" and anthemic video game soul in the ghosted house of album standouts "The One" and "Hold On." In fact, if at first it seems that Sepalcure's work here seems uniform to the point of being identical and difficult to distinguish from the flood of similar material of on labels from Hessle Audio and Hotflush to Night Slugs and Keysound, multiple listens reveals intricacies and subtle swaths of slow contrasting textures that highlight how many of both current and yesterday's sonic hallmarks are being rubbed down and refinished here; I mean, there are bits on the beautiful "Eternally Yrs" that sound almost like Alice Coltrane re-recorded for the muscular brunt of modern day Bristol. If in 2011 it's easy to overlook releases in the hectic record/twitter-offer landscape of bass music, Sepalcure's that rare beast indeed: a full-length whose vitality may well spill into the lifeblood of whatever's two generations on.
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Tracklist: Sepalcure - Sepalcure 01. Me
02. Pencil Pimp
03. The One
04. See Me Feel Me
05. Eternally Yrs
06. Yuh Nuh See
08. Hold On
09. Carrot Man
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