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Call Super: Arpo (review)

Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Call Super expertly crafts a wholly immersive album to soundtrack the early morning, post-club dawn.

Berlin-based techno producer and DJ, Joe Seaton, AKA Call Super, is an artist with a distinct vision, one that is recognisably techno but refuses to be bracketed in any common definitions of the term. Taking in grime, house, trance, and dubstep, he has carved his leftfield niche with an innate ability to create his own aural climate. Hugely experimental, his work is unmistakable, as he rolls together winding synths, crisp, clean metallic beats and noises with more organic instrumentation in the form of saxophone and clarinet. His previous album Suzi Ecto distinguished him as a genuine maverick, one whose sound perfectly suited the early morning clubber.



Call Super

Arpo

(Houndstooth)

Release Date: 10 Nov 2017

His mix for the Fabric mix series saw the London born artist further shift his emphasis away from the sweaty hedonism of the clubs to the early morning, post-club, dawn. The time of night when the beats chime rather than thud and rhythmic pulses give way to terse, hypnotic twitches. New album Arpo continues in the same vein as he moves still further away from the club scene to create an album for the post-party. This is an album for the in-between times. One where the music may be less intense, but it has license to be more cerebral and intricate as those early morning discussions move from animated urgency to something more nebulous and diffuse.

"Arpo" opens the album with lolling sax and languid, shimmering keyboards. Closely followed by "Korals" which features slowly bobbing synths that rise to the surface before sinking away, underpinned by a deceptively simple keyboard line. After the cool, calm opening, "OK Werkmeister" takes things in a more urgent direction. The constant, driving beats work in unison to corral the sounds and noises that dart and dash as if doggedly trying to maintain some semblance of order. As on debut album Suzi Ecto, Super also incorporates clarinet to which invigorates yet soothes as the notes swirl around the mix.

Another factor that made Suzi Ecto such a unique listen was Super's ability to make metallic, computer-generated sounds sound organic as if he was sampling and manipulating sounds found in nature. On "Music Stand" he pulls a similar trick as notes twinkle, chirp and tweet as bright, rolling keyboards steer the track in a more dreamlike direction. The effect is akin to falling asleep in a park on warm, summer's day. On "Arpo Sunk" layers of synths and various percussive beats are beautifully interwoven with clarinet and sax to create a rich and vivid veneer of sound. Super allows the song to drift before loose, jazzy clarinet adds some atonal unpredictability to the mix. In many ways, this characterises the pervading mood on the album. While as a body of work Arpo is fit for those early morning hours there is still a restless, fidgety energy apparent on every track.

Unsurprisingly, "Ekko Ink" provides the link between his two albums as it stands as a companion piece to "Okko Ink" from Suzi Ecto. With a crystal clear, steady rhythm, interspersed with chiming, crystalline notes, it serves as another example of how adept Super is at setting sounds off in different orbits without them ever crashing into each other.

"No Wonder We Go Under" sees Super mixing warming synths with the muffled splash of percussion. Despite the crisp, metallic sounds it remains a soothing rather than distant and removed.

The phenomenally titled, "I Look Like I Look in a Tinfoil Mirror", is a heady techno-house track with spluttering, edgy synths mixed with the automatic sounds of whirring, digital bleeps of computer hardware. Before long it becomes a sprawling blur as the various parts slowly come together. "Trokel" begins in more minimalist fashion with Super gradually adding coats of swelling synths and fidgety blips and bleeps to a single beat. Once again, Super seems influenced by nature as elongated, pitch-shifted notes seemingly mimic the distant cry of wild animals. Album closer, "Out to Rust", impresses with the almost surgical precise use of metallic noises interlaced with stretched saxophone notes and a somersaulting keyboard riff. Before the whole thing shudders to a halt, distinctive, jazz clarinet cajoles it back to life.

Arpo is a rich and rewarding album. Each glitchy sound and fragmented beat has been meticulously pieced together, almost as if to demonstrate how opposites attract. Moreover, Super understands perfectly the post-party environment the album is written for. It is that nuanced understanding of how to write electronic music and the comprehension of his audience that marks Arpo out as one of the electronic albums of the year.

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