Label: Pictures Music Release date: 22/11/10 Link: Bandcamp I’ve been following the wonderful James Welch, aka Seams since ‘Night Cycles’ came out. I was always torn between him and Gold Panda as to which of the two fairly similar artists would come out top this year. It turns out it has been Gold Panda, but that doesn’t lessen the brilliance of Welch’s music. If anything, that makes him more of a find. So when he put out a super ltd edition cassette tape version of this EP before it was released for real, I had to buy it, despite throwing out my cassette player a few years ago. And while I haven’t listened to the cassette itself, the downloads that came with it have been making the rounds on my itunes for a while now. And what a set of songs they are. Despite the inevitable Gold Panda comparisons, Seams makes some of the most interesting post electronica out there. There's the Gold Panda sampling technique, there's the atmosphere but where Gold Panda crafts a temporary landscape and elaborates, Seams generates a whole picture in seconds and takes us there, showing us around. Gold Panda is a painter, Seams is a photographer, to put it simply. To put you in the frame of mind of what’s to come on this four track, listen to ‘Hung Markets’ on his Bandcamp, linked at the top. In the 24 minutes that these 4 tracks stretch, it is ‘Hung Markets’ that stands out the most, creating such an incredible atmosphere, with its catchy vocal hook (sampled while he was in Berlin) that makes the whole thing just lift. It’s a song that is made almost entirely of samples from his time in the city, from flea markets to buskers to everything around him. And while this is not a concept EP I don’t think, it really brings to mind being in Berlin, it takes you there, it takes you to the busy streets and around the various stalls, around the streets and into where Seams wants you to be. As I said before, a lot, if not all, of this was recorded on Dictaphone in Berlin before being edited and altered in a small flat in Berlin, and it really shows. It picks up all of the sounds and feels, it takes every element of being in a foreign city, from the slight uncomfortable nature of not understanding the conversations around you, to the sounds of the streets to the sound of what’s in your head. It’s an EP that is a real snapshot into Welch’s look into the city. It’s his experience of Berlin, it’s his personal feelings, it’s his way of telling us what it’s like. Some people write about their experiences and make travel logs, Welch goes a step further and makes us listen to what’s there, makes us listen to the street and then places his own style over the top. Having said all that, you don’t need the context to appreciate the genius in this work. It stands out by itself and it can be appreciated even if you found the record on the street with no explanation. It’s the story that takes it to the next level that allows you to appreciate exactly what you’re listening to, rather than just listening and loving what’s there. Photobucket