Seagrave Records has been running since 2014 and has racked up an impressive output in its relatively brief lifespan. A cassette-focused record label that also presses vinyl, it has attracted contributions from an impressive array of international producers, some of whom have released regularly on esteemed cassette tastemakers Opal Tapes.
The latest contribution to Seagrave’s discography is a debut album from Aportrait, an alias created by Turkish producer and radio-DJ Arman Akinci. Akinci has been regularly DJing for over a decade on Istanbul’s Radio Dinamo and also heads his own label, ‘Memoire Affective,’ a project that he describes as focusing on ‘the study of music and emotion.’ A cursory listen to the label’s releases, as well as another EP from Aportrait on Japanese DPRB Records, quickly leaves you with an impression of his musical personality. His work is marked with an almost schizophrenic set of contrasts: languishing pads envelop frantically spliced drum-patterns; brooding vocal samples divert into discordant piano melodies, all with a bizarre sense of cohesion that makes for an energising listen.
Akinci’s 12-track offering to Seagrave, ‘Valky’, is yet more energetic and varied than his earlier work mentioned before. The album’s opening few tracks (’This is Seq,’ and ‘Hot Water Music’) start it all off with straight-forward, rolling drum patterns that occasionally veer from standard ‘4x4’ into more syncopated rhythms. Then comes the almost writhing mercurial ‘Come Get Some,’ which signifies a descent into far less formulaic patterns. The album’s 6th track ‘Shibuya,’ throws generic formula out the window, barraging the listener with dissonant piano and flurries of claps. Esoteric weirdness doesn’t dominate this album though, as more club-friendly tracks like the thunderous big-room styles on ‘Slow,’ or ‘Then I Get Up’ keep it anchored to reality. Some great-sounding remixes of ‘Duende / Dawn,’ and ‘Shibuya’ round off the album very well, with heavy, low-end kicks in a stepping beat-pattern.
There’s a certain ‘sound’ that the cassette tape produces, a kind of hazy analogue whirr that comes with its looping disintegration: not quite the soft ‘crackle,’ of a 12’’ record, nor the artificial, stereo-eschewing ‘crunch’ preferred by digital LoFi producers. It’s something more abstract, far harder to reproduce, which is what makes the cassette tape the perfect medium for this kind of project. ‘Valky,’ is an impressive debut album from Aportrait, a playfully experimental yet totally unpretentious achievement. Definitely worth a listen.
Released July 22, 2017