If previous releases for Nihilist, Arbor and his own Catholic Tapes established Chicago's Brett Naucke as one of the more accomplished practitioners in the American synth underground, Seed, his debut LP for Spectrum Spools, is a veritable career apex, brimming with sonic ingenuity, detail, and mastery over both instrument and musical form. It is hard to fathom due to the sheer diversity of sound and affectations of the eight individual pieces on the album, but Seed was recorded -- almost impossibly -- with the same synth patch, slightly modified for the unveiling of each track. This testifies to the intensity of Naucke's macroscopic conceptual vision for Seed. Each track's complex arc points towards a mind rooted in academic electronic processes, keenly trying to surprise and disarm by prying open new textures, rhythms and structures. But Naucke has struck a perfect balance that unites this avant-garde intuition with a compositional sophistication -- bringing each unique molecule of sound into cohesive songs and further still into a supremely listenable and closed album that operates entirely on its own logic. Recorded at home, as well as an isolated environment in Miami, Florida, and then mixed tediously over a six-month period, Seed is a record displaying Naucke's instrumental proficiency as much as it points to his painstaking studio dedication. The results are nothing short of startling. Naucke achieves a perfect synchronicity between the intrigue of each shimmering, crystalline sound that seems to exist infinitely within its own micro-habitat, and the larger organic whole to which it contributes. Combining delicate ambient synthscapes, snarled electronic pulses and subtle and beautiful melodic phrasings, Seed hovers in an emotional sphere very much of its own. Each piece stitches together resplendent widescreen atmosphere with an intricate coldness and mournful elegance. Over the course of this album, Naucke has come as close as any to making the machines he has used sprout from the same soil as the organic landscapes he so perfectly renders on this album. Mastered at Dubplates + Mastering, Berlin, by CGB, January 2014.
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