Seefeel

Seefeel

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When it became clear in the late '90s that no more records were forthcoming from either Seefeel or their break-away project Scala, the sense of unfinished business became palpable. Seefeel had been on an upward trajectory during the mid-'90s, releasing the breath-taking More Like Space EP and signing to Warp for the equally ambitious Starethrough EP. Both records reconciled My Bloody Valentine's experimental haze with the growing field of electronic listening music (which touched on ambient as well as techno). Then, in 2010, 15 years after their last LP, Mark Clifford and co. returned, first with a live show at the Warp20 celebration and then this self-titled comeback for Warp. Early Seefeel records were experimental and abrasive, but often heavily languorous (with Sarah Peacock's looped vocals), so the advent of such a caustic record as Seefeel is a surprise. Similarities to Portishead, who return to active recording only when they have a statement to make, are easy to draw, and Seefeel's off-kilter, static-laden sound comes in close comparison to Portishead's 2009 record, Third. Clifford was always a restless producer -- someone as similarly obsessed with drones and ambience as some of the original electronic academics -- and this record has the same drive for new sounds and structures (even when Peacock is allowed a relatively straight-ahead vocal, as on "Step Up"). Guitars, bass, and percussion do make appearances, but the guitars are processed into reverb oblivion, drums are stark (thanks to former Boredoms drummer E~Da), and the basslines are heavy and dubwise. Slightly more upfront and extroverted than their early recordings, this album is still instantly recognizable, and fans who go back to their last Warp LP, Succour, might be surprised at how little has changed with Seefeel over 15 years.

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