Wednesday, November 16, 2011

REVIEW// Sekuoia: Trips EP

     Sekuoia is the moniker for Danish producer Patrick, a nineteen year old with a debut EP set to drop on the 9th of December. I was forwarded 'Trips' by the small label Fødselsdagsbarnets Pladeselska, a name that is almost impossible to pronounce, but which roughly translates into 'The Birthday Childs Label'. Upon diving into these four tracks, I discovered something that split my opinion. On the one hand, Sekuoia's perfect ability to craft stunning soundscapes is abundant, but, as the art seems to forshadow, this exploration lacks purpose. Individually, each of the four numbers here runs for around five minutes, and separately, that's fine. When you're listening through them as one unit however, there isn't enough substance behind the music to keep your attention for any prolonged period of time. Maybe it's the repeated vocal harmonies and electronic phrases, but for me, while there is subtle variation from track to track, this is an EP you listen to while doing something else. What makes it worse however, is the fact that the better tracks are thrown your way later in the EP, by which time your focus is well and truly faltering. As a debut effort, there is a heck of a lot of potential within these twenty minutes, but it's potential that is not yet fully realised. Patrick has recorded four excellent songs here, rather than one outstanding EP.
     For the sake of this review, I'm going to cover each track independent of one other, as I think my thoughts regarding their amalgamation have been made pretty clear. Opening the EP is 'Can't be Loved', five and a half minutes of scope and scale and despondent deliberation. The winds blow through a strangely sinister melody that emerges from the purple horizon. Melancholy electro beats begin to hum and click, reverberating off the dappled sky and running like water over rippling, glittering dunes. It's a long track, and one that overstays its welcome just a little. 'Nothing' follows, and pushes the clouds of stress to one side. A wonderfully abstract vocal phrase is repeated throughout, soaring upon sunlight, a blissed out melody and subtle trickling details. Synths and uplifting drones are utilised exceptionally well, and lead into 'Something We Lost' brilliantly. There is a noticeably more structured approach to this track, which is nice. A clean, nostalgic crackle dusts the melody, the beats gracefully layered in over time. As the song draws to a close, ethereal singing floats down from the sky, stunning everything into eventual silence and ultimately, the final five minutes. 'Evenings' is my favourite track here, simply because it does the most. The beats are confident, and the echoey vocals are transfixing. They are twisted and sculpted to become part of the backing track, supporting a melody lathered in reverb. As the song progresses, we're dealt a hand of even more affected vocals, sang from far away and from afar. This depth is fantastic, but the build through the middle is even better. It throbs, pulsates and breaths, and makes the whole EP worthwhile.
     Like I said at the start, these four tracks are one of the rare occasions when individual songs work, but when put together just don't. These numbers are drawn out to lengths that require more than what Sekuoia delivered. It's a frustrating ultimatum, but in my opinion, Patrick needs to sacrifice length, or do more with what he wants to release. Other than that, this is a solid debut performance. It showcases Sekuoia's abundance of raw talent, even if that talent needs to be tenderised a tad more. Stream 'Nothing' down below.