, December 20th, 2011 13:50
It would be easy to wave a dismissive hand at the new album from Australian trio Seekae and, as others have done, tag it simply as 'Gold Panda or Boards of Canada fused with Hot Chip', but +Dome is a record that deserves to be considered very much on its own merits.
This a smart album that plays a canny game of brinkmanship. Instead of veering off on some indulgent, chin-stroking tangent (which it only ever hints at doing – but only in a mocking, self-referential way, you understand), its woozy, fecund detail and hip-hop-referencing rhythms, skittering merrily over bass-heavy sounds and basal swathes of electronica, waste little time in getting under your skin.
An admirable progression from earlier releases, +Dome is symbolic of a band driven by creative restlessness. It’s rich in detail, emotionally driven, ambitious in scope. If they were emboldened by a sudden random act of bravura, it's paid handsome dividends; seduced by the Black Dog/Plaid-leaning palpitations of Dutch sorcerer Kettel and the minutiae-obsessed production of Warp's Clark, Seekae's fleeting rock pretensions and classical leanings have been pretty much papered over (although you can see how+Dome, stripped back to bare electro-acoustic bones, could well have ended up in the kind of minimalist territory favoured by contemporary composer Ryan Teague).
As it stands, the result is a sublime progression, a careful rendering of synth squelches, droning strings, processed guitar and field recordings, interfused with occasional flourishes of glockenspiel or melodica, and filtered through the band's trusty splicer. Like an Antipodean, more organic Four Tet, particularly on the glitchy rhythms of '3', it's an intoxicating listen. The same applies to 'Reset Head', which does exactly as it says, the track's quietly insistent beats gently numbing the grey matter into a soft, capitulating mass of pink marshmallowy fluff.
Operating from their Sydney base, the trio – George Nicholas, John Hassell and Alex Cameron – are gleaning serious plaudits (and requisite awards) for their live adventures. It's these live forays in which +Dome is very much rooted, having been nurtured and collated over two years of performing, touring and writing together. That attention to detail is most certainly evident in these intricately-fashioned tracks; layer upon layer of ideas, structures and sounds almost continue to evolve and take shape as you listen. Despite seemingly throwing everything but the kitchen sink and every ounce of digital equipment they could muster at it, +Dome's spellbinding amalgam of jittery electronics, playful samples and conventional instruments – entirely charming rather than overbearing – strikes a fabulous pose.