Tuesday, September 8, 2009
A Juvenile Rush - Seams
A Juvenile Rush
SCQ Rating: 78%
Recently I was introduced to a remix of Bibio’s ‘All the Flowers’, a beatified extension of that brief, near-segue off of Stephen Wilkinson’s wonderful Ambivalence Avenue. As surely as Seams fleshed out that record’s shortest track with harmonious stutters and hip-hop flavour, he also displays an economic caution; using pliers to tweak Wilkinson’s composition instead of the hammer most remix-artists depend on. Always one to jump down the rabbit-hole, I looked into Seams’ (AKA James Welch) prior work and found the fresh-faced A Juvenile Rush, released not two months ago.
While Welch leaves his Bibio-love wisely to the remix – no English folk squeezed between beats here – A Juvenile Rush thrives off combining acoustic instruments with his laptop loops. The results are immediate and inviting; from the twilight serenade of horns over 4/4 beats on ‘Approach’ to the fuzzy guitar over string samples on ‘Drone’, Welch imbeds a warmth that defies these song’s inherent electronic nature. As the brief intermissions of ‘AMBE’ and the early Aphex-ish ‘STRB’ make clear, this debut isn’t about great arcs or narrative exploits - just playful, addictive combinations of sound that more often than not become more than the sum of their parts. ‘Glitch’ is a densely arranged pop song of left-to-right speaker tones, reverberating keys and blown-out bass while rightful centerpiece ‘Circuit’ is a three-act song; at first, swarming with deep catacombs of keyboard codas, then relaxing with an untouched guitar plateau before melding the two halves into a dramatic final third.
As the cover implies, these instruments – looping independently or colliding together - are the focus of A Juvenile Rush, and their tonal ecstasy supersedes any instinct Seams may covet for showboating. Still, the greatest thrill of this debut is hearing moments that suggest otherwise - like ‘Circuit’, among others - which hint at Seams’ talent for grander compositions. In these instances, James Welch stands not only at the forefront of his instruments but on the edge of something greater.