Call Super ‘Arpo’
Joe Seaton weaves jazz and abstract electronics into his best work yet.
Joe Seaton is at the vanguard of today’s experimental electronic music scene. As Call Super, the Berlin-based creator concocts highly original pieces that intriguingly draw together influences from his background, arranging them in striking ways. From a family of visual artists with a keen interest in leftist politics, his father was also a jazz musician. While the international politics that Seaton studied at university in London have woven through his previous works for Houndstooth and Dekmantel, at least in the track titles (“Migrant” or “Nervous Sex Traffic”), on his second album Arpo, it’s the influence of jazz that stands out the strongest.
Through his considerable discography as Call Super, Ondo Fudd and Elmo Crumb, Seaton has experimented with hypnotic house (the sublime “Meltintu”), broken two-step with crystalline synths (“Dovetail”) and sublime IDM dub (“Puppet Scene”), while jazz has haunted the peripheries, with his father contributing oboe and clarinet to tunes such as “Sulu Sekou” from his debut album Suzi Ecto. On Arpo, the oboe is there from the start, opening the title track with a smoky curlicue of woodwind, which melts into a short, beatless piece of delicate electronics. Seaton’s amorphous melodies and micro details are punctuated by subtle instances of live instrumentation on the pensive “Out To Rust,” and the lush oboe comes to the forefront again on the more dubbed-out companion piece “Arpo Sunk,” echoing its meandering synth line.
A Larry Heard-style bassline is slowed to a dubwise crawl on the haunting “Korals,” in which delicate clicks, buzzes, and barely-there melodies help to submerge you in Seaton’s distinct sonic world. Call Super has a real gift for sound design. On headphones, the new age swirls and cascades of synth of “Music Stand” are truly transporting, redolent of a Japanese garden in its exquisite precision and East Asian sound. “Any Pill” continues a tradition of ecstasy references in his work (Suzi Ecto or Fluenka Mitsu), though in this case, it evokes a post-club comedown, the afterglow reflected in a dreamy ambient lullaby.
Just as Seaton’s father and grandfather painted abstract canvases, he too likes to daub vivid colors and shapes, transforming them into engaging works. Arpo is less indebted to dance music than much of his previous work, and more the amorphous ambient and IDM present on some of Suzi Ecto and also his fabric 92 mix. It’s a sound that suits him, though the phantoms of his clubbing history and artistry as a DJ are still folded into tracks such as “Ekko Ink,” with its ever-undulating bassline. On “No Wonder We Go Under,” a metallic bass groove underpins a martial hi-hat, and you sense that an alternative mix exists with a relentless 4/4 atop. That’s not Call Super’s plan though, on his long-players, and it’s the long-form expression he’s especially good at. Arpo feels like a real album, with a distinct narrative and recurring themes. Most of all, it’s a captivating and original listen, from an artist who sounds like no one else.
03. OK Werkmeister
04. Music Stand
05. Any Pill
06. Arpo Sunk
07. Ekko Ink
08. No Wonder We Go Under
09. I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Mirror
11. Out To Rust
Arpo LP is out now on Houndstooth.