Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Aghnie & Seqta - House of Spleen (Crash Symbols, 2019)

Hey, it’s March and I’ve finally cleared out the pile of 2018 releases that I had on my desk.  Hooray for me!  What better way to dive into 2019 than with a perennial favorite of mine, the Crash Symbols label??  I’m a huge fan of the imprint’s split tapes, and this one’s a real jammer for sure.  Both of the artists featured hail from the Eurasian country of Georgia: Aghnie (real name Ika Jojua) is based in Tbilisi, while Seqta (aka Beska Kapchelashvili) now lives in Berlin.

Each of these producers approaches electronic music on a unique trajectory.  Aghnie embraces a sort of electro-techno hybrid, which finds him relishing synths and loops.  There’s a lo-fi edge to the music – a dusting of tape hiss, a slight fuzziness to the beats – but this lends a sense of warmth and familiarity to the proceedings.  “Stitches,” the lengthiest of the tracks offered here features gorgeously interwoven female vocals that hang in the air like languidly wafting trails of smoke.  On the other hand, we have “Wounds,” a beat-driven piece with a quirky yet highly engaging rhythm.  It’s got laser chirps and an infectious ringing sound that will invade your dreams if – like me – you listen to it frequently.  Near the end, it shifts gears and a series of eerie moans leads us toward the dance floor.

Seqta rolls in on a jungle tip, with a breakbeat-heavy sound that’s snappy and sample-ridden.  With track titles like “Gnostic Riddim” and “Ashanti in K-Hole”, you know what he’s all about.  There’s a ghostly murk and some violent imagery at play, which evokes a sense of danger that isn’t present on Aghnie’s tracks.  There might even be a sample from Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score hidden in “Hood iz 4ever”, but I can’t be completely sure that I’m not merely imagining it.  I do know that Ashanti’s hook from “Always on Time” is there on “Ashanti in K-Hole”, and it’s blown out among haunting synth pads that make it sound downright sinister.  These are some ace tracks right here!

There are still a handful of these tapes left over at the Crash Symbols Bandcamp, so don’t hesitate – snap one up pronto!