Calika: Seedling Mother

Seedling Mother, the sequel to Calika's first Audiobulb outing, Small Talk Kills Me, and his Benbecula release, The Bright Spot, finds Simon Kealoha convincingly bridging broad stylistic terrain using a wealth of electronic and acoustic sounds. Calika favours an off-kilter drum feel borne from assembled out of found sounds and processed kit playing. That loose feel extends to the tracks in general where myriad sounds, identifiable and obscure (piano strings, harp, mouth organ, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, bass guitar), slowly assume coherent form; consequently, Kealoha's material more often suggests an improvising post-rock collective than a singular artist assembling precision-tooled, repetition-based tracks (notably, he eschews loops on the album). Take away the portentous string elements and the disconcerting field recording that documents an argument between a teenage pregnant mother and her boyfriend, and “Seedling Mother,” for example, resembles the rumble and clatter of an instrumental band jamming. Driven by flailing cymbals and drums, “2 Quarters Make Half a Smile” finds Kealoha merging Squarepusher-like bravado with the type of rambunctious post-rock attack commonly practiced by Run_return.

The album opens, though, with two tracks one would mostly classify under instrumental hip-hop: “No Hope But Everything,” where brooding tones and a lead bass hover over a glitchy hip-hop rhythm bed, and “rep}eat Performance,” where acoustic guitar, bass, and assorted noise slowly settle into a head-nodding beat. Occupying the other end of the spectrum, the album's longest track, the eleven-minute “Mute,” navigates an unwavering meditative route. With each track metamorphosizing into unexpected form and each one filled with shape-shifting detail, Calika's Seedling Mother demands one's attention but largely rewards it.

September 2007