Born in London and now Berlin-based, Joseph Richmond-Seaton’s acclaimed 2014 debut album under his Call Super alias ‘Suzi Ecto’ saw him building upon a prolific backcatalogue of 12” releases to craft a collection of unpredictable tracks that shifted fluidly between techno, broken beats and ambient electronics, his stripped-down arrangements attracting comparisons to the likes of Actress and Zomby. Four years on, this follow-up ‘Arpo’ offers up eleven new tracks that see him taking the depth and texturality of his productions even further.
Indeed, the focus of these tracks often seems more on the synthaesistic effects of the different layers and effects thrown into the mix during the journey, than the actual destinations themselves. Richmond-Seaton has previously described his tracks as being a mixture of highly finished and unfinished elements, and it’s certainly an apt description, with his productions feeling both highly disciplined and loaded with loose elements of chance at the same time.
While there’s a distinct focus upon flowing rhythms, there’s also a sense that these eleven tracks are more aimed towards headphone-induced fugue states than a heaving PA. Title track ‘Arpo’ provides an opening segue that sees crystalline electronics twinkling against majestic muted trumpet tones (themselves played by Richmond-Seaton’s father, a respected jazz musician in his own right), before ‘Korals’ snaps everything into sharp focus, sending crunching beats rolling against spiky percussion fills, the zinging synth buzzes and sidechained dub effects that wash through the mix creating a sense of elasticity that calls to mind the straining of wire cables.
It’s indicative of the skeletal feel that often lurks beneath these tracks. While ‘OK Werkmeister’ crunches and snaps its skipping broken rhythms with mechanical precision, the bass pulse lurking beneath feels hollow and subliminal rather than huge, with the focus falling more on the effervescent sizzles of the rattling percussion as eerie Middle Eastern instrumentation suddenly bleeds through the cracks. ’Arpo Sunk’ meanwhile reintroduces Richmond-Seaton’s slowburning trumpet solos to take centre-stage amidst planktonic layers of downbeat woody percussion fills and glinting, delayed-out synths, the gaseous hisses that whisper at the edges of the mix suggesting a graff writer using the light of the moon to craft a clandestine piece as the horns swell and ebb, in what’s easily one of this album’s most soulful moments.
Elsewhere, ‘No Wonder We Go Under’ snaps things sharply back to the future as bleeping monophonic synths twinkle against stuttering arrhythmic breakbeats and dewy keys, the juddering bass pads that rise up in the mix calling to mind early Rephlex-era IDM as they play off phased ambient synth trails. ‘Arpo’ is a mercurial and unpredictable collection that sees Richmond-Seaton pushing at the boundaries between headphone listening and the dancefloor, his tracks following their own internal sense of logic as they fluidly shift between moods and forms.