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Sega Bodega
Salvador Eve Willis , March 2nd, 2020 09:54

Combining glitchy industrial sounds with emo shrieks and 90s RnB grooves, Sega Bodega's debut album wears its nihilism lightly, finds Eve Willis

Sega Bodega – real name Salvador Navarrete – is known for his glitchy, industrial-inspired sounds and big, cinematic floor-fillers. But his debut album, Salvador, has a sad, romantic feel. Perfect for its Valentine’s Day release. That said, I’d hesitate to send it to a crush: lyrics like “I love it when you say you’ve changed, just ‘cause I’ve changed the locks” might give them the wrong idea.

Navarrete has never used his own vocals before, and pitching them through a vocaliser gives many of the tracks a drifting, unreal quality. His own neuroses and romantic ambivalences come centre-stage: “No-one’s around and I’m horny with my phone” drifts into “I would never love you, I would never fuck you…”. ‘U Suck’ smacks weirdly of mid-00s R&B, with its languid backing, suggestive squeaks and diss-track style pettiness: pretending to forget a lover’s name; wanting and not-wanting.

Lyrically and sonically there is a debt to emo, which is fun. Alien, shrieking vocals and sped-up melodic glitches are laid over chunky guitar riffs, and lyrics like, “Keep your hands around my neck, cut me with glass… until I’m dead just hack and maim” are unexpected. Lyrically, the whole album is pretty depressing in places, but the bounciness and flirtation with a poppier sound mean the debut wears its nihilism lightly.

Personally, I could have handled more of the heaviness of his earlier work. His earlier EPs are darker, more brooding: beats in minimalist repetition, the dead whine of industrial sounds. SS (2017) and SS (2015) are mixtapes of reimagined film scores (featuring two of my all-time favourites, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, and Tarkovsky’s Stalker) and – maybe inevitably, given their focus – feel darker, looser, sinister in places. One track on the former, ‘Pi’, is less than a minute long but is rich with humming dread. Perhaps the shift towards using his own vocals has left Navarrete less reliant on production technique and more on the lyrics to bring the scare factor to his work. Or maybe he’s just evolving, moving in a different direction.

Either way, I’m not going to email him and demand that he pack in what he’s doing and deliver ten tracks reimagining the scores of Trash Humpers and Mulholland Drive (although it would be a pleasant continuation of the SS EPS, and I, personally, would get something out of this). Navarrete is a versatile artist, and Salvador is a rare thing: an emotionally candid, melancholic album full of bangers. Next time round, I hope he draws on some of his earlier, bleaker influences – and his obvious love of cinema – to give us a visual album.