Flica: Weekendary

Weekendary, the first Flica album in four years from Malaysian artist Euseng Seto (who initiated the project in 2007), draws its inspiration from Japanese instrumental hip-hop, something plainly evident in the head-nodding beats that skitter through the forty-five-minute recording's ten tracks. In truth, the fact that Seto dedicates as much attention to fashioning luscious electronica makes the musical style feel closer to trip-hop than hip-hop, as the languorous flow of a representative cut like “11.25pm” makes clear. In this particular case, a loping beat pattern appears but so too do delicate acoustic guitar and electric piano shadings, the combination of which amounts to four minutes of relaxed, serenading swing. That dream-like feel carries over into other tracks, too, such that pieces like “Reforming,” “The Book,” and “Wasteland” become exercises in sophisticated mood music designed to soothe the frazzled soul.

A typical Flica setting sees Seto building multiple layers of keyboards (acoustic and electric pianos, synthesizer), string washes, electronics, and beats into saturated moodscapes of restrained joy—think of it as a fusion of electronica and trip-hop tinged with twilight, something beatifically realized in the title track but in other places, too. While mood is paramount, melody is a central concern also, as shown by the piano themes that often anchor the material. His orchestral side comes to the fore during the strings-heavy reverie “Journey,” and mention must be made of Kent Lee, Seto's only guest on the recording, whose funky electric bass playing adds considerable heft and personality to “Midnight Call.” A hint of melancholy seeps into “Ideal,” but its relatively downcast demeanour is the exception not the rule on this well-crafted set of breezy instrumental trip-hop. That Seto chose to end the album with the exuberant uplift of “The Space Elevator” says much about the message he presumably intended to convey.

January 2014