Review: Seabat - Crescent ParC


(LP, Constellation Tatsu, 2012)

NYC synthesizer duo Seabat shoot themselves effortlessly into the tongue-in-cheek “vaporwave” aesthetic with their debut vinyl “Crescent ParC”, released by Californian label Constellation Tatsu. A collage of clouds and images of Burj Khalifa growing out of a pristine beach suggest a sort of cleansing, relaxing sound journey you are expecting to hear after a hard, tense day at the office. “Crescent ParC” can be interpreted as a more “bearable” version of James Ferraro’s “Far Side Virtual” – while Ferraro’s album was a biting satire of high-tech Internet corporate reality, Seabat’s output is more ambient focused and experimental in approach, still retaining some of the not-so-serious ideology, with the consciously kitschy album artwork (tho the turquoise vinyl is truly beautiful) and track names like “ProClick” or “South Asian Real Estate”.

While “Mountains of Palawan”, the duo’s previous cassette, sounded like a quick, concise personal anthology of history of electronic music (or rather: history of musical inspirations), “Crescent ParC” is a more matured effort, firmly rooted in ambient and progressive electronic music roots, but not afraid of experimenting with samples (like the mangled speech soundbites in “Mulch Installation) or throwing elaborate synth solos into the mix, like in wonderful “Hardscape”, bringing to mind the best moments of Stellar Om Source (what happened to that woman, anyway?). At times, Seabat will deliberately want to sound like a mutated, chopped’n’screwed version of a beaming commercial promoting bright new future – case in point being both parts of “South Asian Real Estate”, which sounds like a soundtrack to a promotional movie advertising state of the art postmodernist condo with all the facilities needed to escape the everyday world gone horribly wrong. Some might even think of J.G. Ballard’s “High Rise” while listening to some of the pieces, where the society inhabiting ultra-modern high rises gradually devolves into a bunch of chaotic “tribes” that fight with each other for floors or resources.

There is a sinister air under all the glossy, polished ambient soundtracks on “Crescent ParC”. It’s not there initially, but after a few (or even several) listens it finally begins to surface. The bassy, throbbing edge thrown here or there, unnaturally slowed down beat somewhere else, or the psychotic experimentation with random words collected from various sources – they all indicate a new insanity that broods under the seemingly perfect, digital age visage. Seabat hide it perfectly and expose it only to those who listen patiently, with a focus. It might never occur to those, who just treat it as “wallpaper music”, the sort of supermarket muzak for the hip hi-fi system to be played on. And that’s what makes “Crescent ParC” such a clever album. Good work, boys.