With the simply titled Cepia, Minneapolis-based Huntley Miller returns after a year-three absence with his first Cepia collection since Natura Morta appeared on Ghostly. Perhaps the title is intended to reference how direct and to-the-point Miller's music has become, and certainly not a moment is wasted when not a single one of the recording's ten tracks exceeds the four-minute mark. Despite their brevity, Miller's tracks are marvels of construction, with plenty of detail squeezed into their compact form. Think of it as melodic IDM-tinged electronica grounded by crisp beatwork and refined atmospherics and served up in succinct, three-minute packages.
“Untitled III” inaugurates the album on a bright and effervescent note with jubilant, sing-song melodies and stutter-funk percussive figures. “Ithaca” takes the kind of skittering beat snap and chiming melodics one associates with Autechre but rather than having the parts splinter apart Miller corrals them into a clear-headed song structure one might classify as IDM-funk. “Incurvatus in se” (Latin for “curved inward on oneself ”) finds Miller in a suitably introspective mood, casting his gaze within to find querulous melodies and grainy surges rubbing shoulders with off-kilter beat shuffle. “Me and My Gin” catches one's ears for the loose, jazz-like swing with which Miller underscores the tune's insistent melodic intertwine. One might have expected something exaggerated from a track with a title like “Hype Man,” but it turns out to be a lullaby-like interlude of gossamer, waltz-timed melodic patterns. Softer moments emerge in other places too, including “Public Address,” a grainy, heavily processed ambient soundscape, and “Cord,” which caps the release with fluttering ambient gestures.
The release is available in CD and LP formats, with the latter perhaps the ideal presentation. Hearing the album's ten tracks split five per side recalls the days when vinyl ruled and CDs and digital downloads were options decades removed from realization. Cepia is high-quality stuff for sure; one only hopes that the infrequent appearance of new Cepia material coupled with the album's modest running time won't result in it getting lost in the shuffle. Miller's meticulous handiwork deserves better.