Ah geez, we just spoke about controlled chaos and now we have to go back there again. One of the first genres to explore the power of putting subtle structure on top of flamboyant turmoil was jazz; that’s basically it’s entire raison d’etre. Since then, many younger genres have turned to it for ideas on how to understand music, an ultimately systematized affair, through a wilder lens. Progressive rock, math rock, post rock, and even thrash and death metal, have all suckled at the teat of one of the modern progenitors of music as we know it when they came to dance with unpredictable fire. To that prodigious chain of students and practitioners of the power inherent in the splicing of jazz, we can now add SEIMS.
As these Australians are gearing up for the release of their third album, aptly titled 3, all that remains to us is to stand jaw agape at the vitriolic, dynamic and downright groovy mix of math-rock, jazz and progressive rock. Growing on the strength of their previous releases, 3 is a study in what they have learned so far; even though the overall runtime of the album is shorter than their previous release, the tracks are bigger and more ambitious. Each one represents a theme, as hinted to by their literally colorful titles. Opener “Cyan” is all unbridled math-rock frills tinged with jazz-y aggression and attack; the brass instruments used on it lend it an edge that is hard to resist, and, when coupled with the frizzling electronics, classify SEIMS into the highly prolific instrumental groups operating in these area in the last few years, like The Physics House Band or Three Trapped Tigers.
“Magenta” which follows it is more psychedelic and drawn out, its bass turned up and its synths resplendent (even though it also contains one of the fastest and heaviest passages on the album). But whether math-rock or trippy prog rock (like on the opening of centerpiece “Yellow”), the true strength of 3 is in the cohesion and progression of the tracks. It often feels, in the case of expansive, instrumental rock like this, that compositions simply progress from one to the other. There’s no thread for the listener to follow; each part might be enjoyable but the whole never manifests. Not so here. While there’s no narrative per se to the album, there is a sense of meaning, of vector. SEIMS clearly know where every piece goes and they don’t hesitate in taking the music exactly where they see it unfold.
This allows them to make some downright weird choices which, nonetheless, somehow make sense. For example, they’re not afraid to place strangely uplifting gang vocals right after a Jaga Jazzist-like, rich synth/bass passage and follow that up with blistering drums work which leads into the main lead of “Yellow”. Things are different but they don’t feel disjointed; everything is taken care of with the utmost attention to where it fits into the whole. It also doesn’t hurt that each member of this band is an expert musician in their own right; some of the controlled mayhem involved in parts of this album are awe inspiring in their technical prowess (check out for example the middle passages of the same “Yellow”. Holy crap, the drums and then those vocals). All of this makes 3 a damn good release, one which sees an already accomplished band take their ambition into new heights.
Oh, did we also mention that when you put ideas from the first three tracks together, you get the insanely interesting closing track, “Imperfect Black”, created with the amazing Wartime Sweethearts? We’ll let you explore that joy of theme, concept and improvisation by yourself; get on 3 as soon as it releases. It will keep you guessing and satisfied for weeks.
3 sees release on October 26th on the ever magnificent Art as Catharsis. You can pre-order it via the link to the label’s Bandcamp, above. For the love of god, do so immediately.