Thursday, 28 April 2016

Seal of Quality - Affective Design (Kythibong)

The Kythibong label so often manages to keep you waiting for a new release just long enough to get the old anticipatory juices flowing before hitting you with something so wonderful you forget the time lapse and just want to get on with playing the thing.
Such is the case with this album, coming your way in early May.  Three years on from his debut for the label, it shows Seal of Quality seriously stepping up to the mark and truly living up to his name.
It's not just the weird quirkiness or the clash of instruments intended for the purpose (guitar) with others not so intended (Gameboy) that make the release stand out.  After all, there are hundreds of artists attempting the same thing, few of whom manage to achieve anything anywhere near as good as this.
It's more that Seal of Quality manages to fuse these elements into something that leaves so few concessions to convention.  Drum tracks (on opener 'All Set Up', for instance), rather than simply providing a beat, chatter frantically like how Stephen Morris might have had he ever achieved his ambition of transforming into a machine.  
'Push & Pull', which has been featuring in my Dandelion Radio show this month, is one of several breathless creations that offer a sense of these disparate elements clustering together, rushing to get to the same point.  The album's final and longest track, 'Deceiver', begins with a pretty much standard retro-futuristic vibe (think Blancmange battling with The Normal and losing, with greatly improved results) before you hear the chiptune noises and rhythmic patterns working away in there, ganging up into a tempo-altering frenzy that takes it - and you - somewhere else entirely.
It's astonishing at times that these tracks hold together so well, but hold together they do, most brilliantly.  Indeed, the overriding triumph of Affective Design comes in its ability to and produce something so defiantly melodic from all of this stuff.
Do I use the words 'worthy addition to the Kythibong catalogue' too much?  Probably, but it's hard not to.  More to the point, that's certainly what Affective Design is.  Get it on LP and CD here

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