Considering the string of varied EPs which preceeded Quarters, Seams‘ debut full-length could have gone […]
Considering the string of varied EPs which preceeded Quarters, Seams‘ debut full-length could have gone in any number of directions. The one he landed on is certainly a good choice, as it sees the now-Berlin-based producer strip away almost all remnants of the sample stacking and processed field recordings which marked his earliest releases. Instead, Quarters is an album built from stark synthesizers and dry drum machines; its angles are sharp, but not necessarily because they aim to cut through busy dancefloors.
Quarters is a noticeably hi-fi affair. The synth sounds and drum tones are clear and precise, their path to the listener rarely obstructed by noticeable filtering or excessive reverb and FX. To wear one’s aesthetic heart so plainly on one’s sleeve is a somewhat bold choice for a debut album, but it certainly does work well for Seams; the clarity with which Quarters is presented helps to bring forward the more musical talents the producer has developed. Across the record, Seams’ melodies are strong but not overindulgent, and the way he weaves in and out of various themes and progressions has a natural ease that makes them easy to follow. Songs such as the opening “Constants” and particularly rushing “Rilo” employ rising chords and minimal rhythmic accompaniment to bolster their lattice-like melodic patterns, while the patient “Sitcom Apartment” and Krautrock-esque “Pocket” take more unexpected paths to display their melodic wealth and acute rhythms. The album’s closing effort, “TXL,” lands somewhere in between, using only a spare chord progression but also building patterns and melodies with an array of detailed percussion. Each of the tracks heard here comes underpinned with a sort of driving current, a constant build that, when combined with the record’s overall sonic atmosphere, makes Quarters somewhat comparable to the work of producers like James Holden or Nathan Fake. That said, Seams is less concerned with reaching the grandiose techno peaks that are often heard throughout the Border Community catalog.
With that in mind, Quarters is certainly not the most exciting debut LP, as it offers no resounding standout and, in the case of songs like “Iceblerg” and “Hurry Guests,” occasionally lets its momentum drag behind. Still, the album displays an impressively unique outlook on electronic production, one that emphasizes miniature details and patient musical movement over unstoppable force and eager hooks. Though he is in fact a Berlin resident, Seams has clearly removed himself from the club sound often associated with the city, choosing to make Quarters an album that reveals its strengths best when heard through headphones and other intimate listening environments. Seams’ sonic details are most potent when allowed to sink in undisturbed.