Primitives opens onto a roughly sketched landscape of ambient noise and meandering synthesizers before the lines are drawn in and darkened with percussive guitars. It’s the debut album of Roger Sellers, better known by his stage name, Bayonne, and it’s a phenomenally crafted first statement. Sellers describes himself as a minimal composer, and while Primitives does emphasize moments of spare, lonely sound, it also offers wide swaths of impressionistic, textural richness.
Emphasizing gradual but steady change with the friction between shifting and keystone phrases, the formal reintroduction of Austin, Texas, musician Roger Sellers as Bayonne uses coiled sections to make sweeping wholes. The electronic-anchored sound of Primitives fluidly crosses into familiar areas of reference but resists solidifying into a set mold. “Intro” trampolines on a twinkling buildup evoking Animal Collective’s “Did You See the Words”, with Sellers stretching his words out just beyond interpretation.
Though not the first album by experimental musician Roger Sellers, Primitives marks the debut of Bayonne, an alias for his more electronics-based songcraft. Rooted in techniques used in his solo live shows, which involve layering parts via live looping, the recording incorporates voice, synths, piano (or piano voice), loops, effects, and acoustic percussion to construct his textured ambient songs. The bubbly "Spectrolite" opens with briskly arpeggiated marimba-like tones alongside a rhythmic guitar pattern before a bassline and drum kit kick in, followed by vocals.
Ever since the Guardian’s Peter Robinson christened the “new boring” in 2011 – a movement that contained all the offensively bland nice-pop from Adele to Ed Sheeran that was dominating the charts at the time – it’s felt like a term that could be applied more and more extensively to modern music. Apart from in exceptional circumstances, something that fits neatly under its umbrella is the bloke with a loop pedal and a falsetto. Austin’s Roger Sellers, otherwise known as Bayonne, is one such man, and his debut album is characterised by the sort of lush textures and repetitive chants that so easily blend into background noise.
In 2014, Austin, Texas musician Roger Sellers released his third full-length, Primitives – eight twinkling, sparkling tracks short on vocals, but heavy on atmosphere and experimental electronic sounds. Two years on, that record is reissued, along with three bonus tracks, under the new moniker Bayonne, and as that outfit’s debut album. While the rebranding might not be fooling anyone, this re-release nevertheless (re-)introduces these songs to a public that may have otherwise missed them.
If Primitives feels familiar, it might be because you’ve heard it already. Texan producer Roger Sellers released this LP on Punctum Records in 2014, but he returns with a brand new alias, a new record label and three extra tracks to wrap up the ceremony. Just as well, because those who missed it the first time are in for a trip. Bayonne twists and folds thousands of layers and loops, utilising the echoes of old pianos and draining sinks to add some earth to his technical wizardry.
Roger Sellers must have grown up near a train track. His music, under the artist name Bayonne, uses repeating patterns, some that are wonderfully engaging and others that make you think of a boxcar on its way to the grain elevator. Click-click-clickety-click is about all you get, which works in some ways as a background track to life but in other ways makes you think he took a few shortcuts in Pro Tools, namely the one that says “repeat loop” about 20 times in a row.