Cepia: Dowry
Ghostly International

Cepia: Pearl EP
Ghostly Digital

With its multi-layered comminglings of clanking beats and melancholy themes, Dowry, the first release from Minneapolis-based Huntley Miller (aka Cepia), follows in the mechanical footsteps of Autechre, Funkstörung, and more recently Traject. The familiarity of its style is more than compensated for by the quality of its tracks, however, even if one (“Gas”) is a mere fragment. On the atmospheric tip, there's the gently percolating “Countrytime” and “L2,” a mournful coda of gauzy ambience. Harder-edged bass pounds and fuzzy skitter enliven “The Marina, The Bank and The Eels” but the title track, where stately melodies stubbornly bleed through entangling tendrils of squawks, whirrs, and clicks, is the real stunner.

Pearl EP offers a nice complement to the earlier Dowry EP. There is, quite literally, a pearlescent quality to Cepia's material, a lustrous warmth that makes his machine music inviting rather than alienating. Following a subtly riveting prelude (“Malcesine”), the EP takes flight with “Our Bones,” a jittery exercise in crackly dub-funk; while spindly tentacles coil ever more tightly, a sombre melody surreptitiously slithers through its background, but so faintly it almost escapes notice. Slivers of sunlight illuminate steely surfaces during the languidly loping “Salt Field” while a sparse, melancholy mantra pierces dense thrum and clatter in “Pearl.” The EP's twenty minutes of bright melodies and writhing noises manage to satisfy your Cepia appetite while also leaving you wanting more.

March 2006