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Album Reviews : SEIMS – SEIMS

By on June 25, 2013

549510_418176988252086_705317956_nToday at work someone who has discovered Apple’s Garage Band was playing me some of his songs, during which I was thinking about the shapes of the tracks that were better than others and how much that shape had to do with how good it sounded. We got to talking about instrumental rock and experimental stuff and what works to make something good to listen to. Obviously at its most basic there’s a start point and an end point, and it’s about that passage of time in between and how the tune goes about getting from A to B. Beyond that does it look like a brick wall, a dry stone wall, a layered cake, a tangle of wires, or something else? And taken further still, what does the whole record look like?

The debut and self-titled album from SEIMS is a case in point. A one-man project from Simeon Bartholemew, SEIMS has given us 14 tracks totaling around 45 minutes, so the songs are relatively short. They hold each other quite well to create a complete composition despite displaying some strong contrasts, helped by the return toward the end of an earlier song in a different arrangement and a couple of other themes that reappear. Although there are passages on the record that become repetitious, they are very deliberate and as a whole things keep moving along rather than setting up long trance-like drone. Even still, I found a repeating phrase in closing track ‘IVDE’ a bit annoying and almost too long. It’s hard to tell just how much is synth and how much actual instruments due to the high production levels which may bother you or may not.

For the most part (eight of the 14 songs) the sound is very cold, metallic, minimalist and electronic with little warmth, which is not to say it’s moody, sterile or depressing. Think Gary Numan’s ‘Cars’,   Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobarn’ or Battles’ ‘Ice Cream’ without vocals and you’ll have an idea of the kind of emotion going on. A few like ‘VV’, ‘4444 444’ and ‘Cardiac’ bring up the reverb guitar and feedback, and even some great improve twiddling of knobs, with the rawness contrasting well against the colder sounds. Songs like ‘Droplet’ have a decidedly bouncy funk going on with their bass, although it never continues unbroken for long.

The mathy structure of these songs is very much what would look like a wall made of bricks of uniform size and texture but different colours. There is little layering which enhances the sparse sound and draws focus strongly toward one or two sounds at a time. Melodies are short arpeggios and phrases rather than hummable tunes.

The other tracks steer away from the dominance of the colder electronic sounds, ‘CRYBBY’ sounding very much like ‘Worlds in Collision’ by God Is An Astronaut with it’s uplifting chord progression and more layered, flowing feel. The reprise ‘BBYCRY’ takes this further with synth strings and is the warmest track of the album. Tracks ‘\\’ and ‘\’ are field recordings of water and frogs, both very quiet. These four have a huge impact on the record as a whole by breaking up a sound that can become rather stale and predictable over the course of a whole record. In fact ‘OUTOUT’ is a bit boring and doesn’t need to be there

This is an album that sits outside of most math-rock, post-rock and electronica by breaking up what can become very boring over the course of a record (TTNG and Scale The Summit for example) with contrasting tunes and a little emotion here and there. It sits alongside bands like Alright The Captain and Trojan Horse who are pushing the boundaries of the genre, albeit pushing in a completely different direction.

Album: SEIMS
Year: 2012
Genre: Math rock
Label: Independent
Origin: Sydney, Australia

Track list:
4. \\
6. UU
7. VV
9. 4444 444
13. \


A relatively recent convert to more extreme metal (not exclusively), I've always preferred non-commercial and progressive music to mainstream. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where in my youth I lived for every new Greasy Pop Records release. I also write for ech(((o)))es & dust and ThisIsNotAScene but it's good to start contributing to an Australian metal site.