That's at least partially because Folding Time features some older material that was dug up and refurbished, though it's hard to pinpoint which tunes those might be. Across the album's compact 45 minutes, the duo sound warm and cozy, like they never left. They use pastoral guitar lines, frilly synth leads, regal melodies and vocal samples that are twisted until they sound like muted horns. It's all familiar, and sounds more polished than ever. Where older, lengthy tracks like "Pencil Pimp" would sprawl out and fill the space around them, songs on Folding Time are self-contained. They hover between three and four minutes each, humble in scope.
Folding Time begins with the melancholy R&B of "Fight For Us" (with a sighing vocal from Rochelle Jordan) and moves into classic Sepalcure vocal chop-ups on "Not Gonna Make It" and "No Honey." The latter could be one of Machinedrum's woozy footwork fusions from a few years ago, while busy drum track "Not Gonna Make It" recalls the hybrid language of Sepalcure. With blooming pads and rounded corners, it's both floor-minded and gentle, the hallmark of Sepalcure at their best. The broken beat of "Ask Me" and the pillowy pads in "Been So True" are pure Hotflush circa 2011, while the drum & bass-tempo "Loosen Up" careens into a breakdown where the duo let rip wobbly basslines—it should be disruptive, but their touch is so careful that you could miss it if you aren't paying attention. It's a nice example of the detail sewn into Sepalcure's productions.
Nostalgic as Folding Time can be, Sepalcure don't always rest on their laurels. On "Brother Forest," they play with chanted vocals and a voluptuous rhythm—imagine the duo remixing an Awesome Tapes From Africa record, all the gritty surfaces painted over with their signature pastel colours. "Brother Forest" also features deep, sonorous chords with rich delay, sounds that form the foundation of the album's stronger, dub-informed back half. The genre's languid pulse fits perfectly into Sepalcure's soft-focus world, particularly on tracks like "Dub Of."
Folding Time sounds so manicured and lovely that it's hard to find fault with its production value. If the album has a problem, it's that it makes a lateral move rather than a forward one. Whenever the tracks might date back to, something like "No Honey" sounds so much like Sepalcure from five years ago that it's practically a time capsule. There's nothing wrong with refining your strengths, but Sepalcure once represented something more adventurous. Where their early work absorbed the music happening around them to form something unique, Folding Time seems content to riff on their own history. Fans of Sepalcure's warm embrace will find much to love here; those who appreciated their experimentation might be less satisfied.