Sepalot: Seek
Eskapaden Musik

Munich-based DJ and music producer Sebastian Weiss distills a number of different yet complementary strands into his Sepalot project. Naturally there's a strong dance music undercurrent, but instrumental hip-hop, bass music, and electronica are central to the mix too. Weiss was, after all, a member of the hip-hop outfit Blumentopf (founded in 1992), even if his focus since 2008 has largely been on solo albums, of which Seek, the second part of his Hide & Seek diptych, is his sixth. On the nine-song collection, clubby beat-driven instrumentals rub shoulders with melodic vocal tracks, the latter so accessible they're tailor-made for radio play.

But even the most accessible material is distinguished by Weiss's highly developed handling of sound design. His is the kind of music where an incredible amount of attention is devoted to production, atmosphere, and texture; liberal applications of echo and reverb bolster the multidimensionality of the material, and Weiss clearly spends a great deal of effort refining the specific sounds within an arrangement. It's the kind of album where the character of each detail, be it a snare, cymbal, vocal, or bass line, is regarded by the producer as critical.

Illustrative of the approach is “Konzentrat,” which features Matthias Lindermayr on muted trumpet. Largely downplaying the club aspects of his music, Weiss focuses on the electronica side by creating a moody atmospheric backdrop for Lindermayr to emote against. Electric piano shadings add a jazz vibe to the production, while a lumbering, bass-heavy pulse gives the cut a low-down feel, and during one episode a trumpet fragment loops incessantly as synth flares and other electronic effects are folded in.

Two songs are distinguished by vocal contributions: “Throw a Stone,” a soulful take on bass music elevated by Miss Platnum's passionate performance; and “I Kiss Goodbye,” a production whose populist tone is compensated for by Lylit's sultry vocal. Far removed from such radio-friendly tracks is “Tear It Down,” a funky instrumental workout whose light-speed vocal loops play like some dizzying spawn of Steve Reich's Come Out.

In contrast to the electronic jazz of “Konzentrat,” a cut such as “I Can Be That” presents Sepalot's funkier side, with Weiss brightening a throbbing pulse with bright synthesizer flourishes and distorted vocal loops; he's not averse to dropping a dance-oriented cut into the proceedings, either, as evidenced by the punchy acid-house strut of “Metro.” Though its tracks are clearly informed by a club sensibility, Seek isn't in the final analysis a collection of dance cuts but rather songs rich in rhythm and melody that could be worked into a DJ's set with very little difficulty.

September 2017