Sepalcure: Sepalcure
Hotflush Recordings

In which Sepalcure duo Praveen Sharma (aka Braille) and Travis Stewart (aka Machinedrum) make good on the promise of their earlier Fleur and Love Pressure Remixed EPs. The product of two weeks of intense collaboration, the duo's self-titled debut album presents ten cuts in the by now familiar Sepalcure style, which pulls together elements drawn from two-step, Chicago house, Detroit techno, and soul, and broadens its atmospheric mix by adding in bits of IDM, dub, and hip-hop. In this exceptionally diverse set, the duo merge the ecstatic character associated with rave and deep house with a crate-digging sensibility emblematic of instrumental hip-hop.

“Me” kickstarts the album with the insistent thump of kick drums and snares, its high-energy drive bolstered by a serpentine bass line and the soulful vocal accoutrements that are so integral to the Sepalcure sound. It's a fabulous opener that sets the stage for the equally satisfying cuts that follow. In “Pencil Pimp,” syncopated synth chords help power the ferocious house attack while vocals add to the music's fury with their own ecstatic expressions. That syncopated thrust carries over into “The One” where the duo fashion six minutes of dancefloor fever by merging a tribal-techno pulse with impassioned shout-outs (“You are the one”). The dubbier side of the Sepalcure equation comes to the fore during “Yuh Nuh See,” which otherwise fidgets restlessly in place due to the hyperactive bass pulse and truncated vocal fragments, after which the funky dancehall-dub swing of “Hold On” brings the earthier side of the group's sound to the forefront without lessening its blissful spirit. Whereas “See Me Feel Me” opts for a more restrained brand of piano-based elegance without betraying the swing at the center of the group's sound, the frenetic pace only truly slows once, and that's fittingly during the closer “Outside,” which caps the album with four minutes of deep ambient melancholia. Driven by a furious forward momentum, Sepalcure's self-titled album blazes with claps, vocals, synths, tribal beats, and samples. It's clearly one collaboration where the individual talents of those involved have been anything but diluted.

November 2011