Story by Hayden Goodridge / Contributing Writer
Electronic music too often suffers from a sort of sonic-oversaturation, in which producers put together colorful arrangements to bombard the ears as energetic intros escalate at breakneck speed to climactic beat drops. Joe Seaton, the mind behind the Call Super moniker, approaches his electronic creations from a quite different angle. Instead of filling his works with boisterous beats, Seaton utilizes the power of subtlety to guide listeners through fickle environments of instrumental oddity.
The album cover of Call Super’s sophomore release, “Arpo,” displays an image that, at first glance, seems like no more than an abstract smattering of red lines against a grey background. Close inspection, however, reveals this image to be a small piece of a larger, unidentifiable work on a concrete wall. This cover proves to be indicative of the music it represents, as listeners are met with a collection of pieces that refuse to immediately identify themselves. Instead, “Arpo” houses an immense amount of transitory musical sketches that bounce off one another and form soundscapes of impressive scope.
If you were to dissect one of the tracks from “Arpo,” you would find yourself with a pile of small, seemingly insignificant musical samples that seem to lack any relationship with one another. However with Seaton’s crafty hand to assemble them together, the snippets begin to build striking forms. Take for instance the song “Arpo Skunk,” which shows up halfway through the album. The song commences with a jittery loop of tribal-sounding percussion, which leads into a watery synth phrase. A delayed clarinet then appears in the background and yelps over the loose beat as a soft static is allowed to appear in short, irregular bursts. The beauty of this style is that it gives these soft instrumentations new value, as the layering of each part creates an intricately operating composition.
Call Super’s strangely running musical clockworks lend themselves to constant evolution as each track progresses. Songs like “No Wonder We Go Under” seem unable to sit still, as Seaton quickly builds new elements over the track’s rhythmic static beat, and just as easily strips each away. When a new sample is introduced, it often follows a repetitive loop to conform to each song’s unique pattern. In doing so, small adjustments in each pattern stand out from the established repetitions and catch the ear, which creates a feeling of anticipation as each adjustment is made. However, such repetitions are sometimes prone to monotony as relatively lengthy tracks like “I Look Like I Look in a Tinfoil Mirror” grow bland in their lack of variance. Despite this occasional feeling, “Arpo” offers up no shortage of new ideas to test out and find their way into each sonic configuration.
“Arpo” is certainly not the easiest of projects in the field of electronic music, but its abstract nature makes for a rewarding experience for those seeking a more active listen. With elusive chimes and blips to fill the ears from track to track, it’s easy to become blissfully lost within Call Super’s creative, mind-bending expressions of sound. In a stark contrast to the bombastic nature of popular electronic music today, Call Super instead provides an engaging experience that lets its intricately crafted nature speak for itself.
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