Sealess See

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The idea of music as something to drown in has a storied history already, and the increasing mainstreaming of sample/collage-based composition has been fertile ground for it -- if the Bomb Squad were out to tear apart perceptions and reassemble them, an act like the Avalanches seemed far more inclined to see you lost in the oceanic wash suggested by the album cover of Since I Left You. Epstein's Sealess See is pretty clearly in the vein of the latter, as well as any number of acts over the early 21st century (perhaps most obviously Animal Collective and Bright Moth Super Rainbow) that can't get enough of being blissed-out and beat-happy while not openly aiming for chart production standards when it comes to pop hooks, underscored by the fact that it's an all-instrumental collection. Sea imagery colors every song thanks to the titles -- samples: "Seashells and Starfish," "Snail Strut," "Reef," "Hairless Catfish" -- but the music doesn't specifically suggest watery depths on its own. Songs like "Cuttlefish" and "Old Time Stars" are easy showcases for Epstein's goal of having a clear core beat or hook that allows a more constant enjoyment, something the album is clearly aiming at throughout -- it's not a white noise aggro mess. (Certainly not when a pretty melody like that in "Crabs Walk" is in place.) At the same time, there's not quite enough here to make it stand out when you're giving it an ear; Sealess See fills in the background but doesn't leap out in its own right. Perhaps next time through.

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