The gently experimental nature of Sam Prekop's lengthy discography has always led to some interesting twists in sound, but even those well versed in his adventurous catalog weren't expecting the extreme shift that happened with 2010 solo album Old Punch Card. With that album, gone were the mellow post-rock lingerings and organic bossa nova-flavored tunes of his main band, the Sea and Cake, or even his two solo albums that preceded it, that style replaced instead with completely instrumental electronic soundscapes. Using synthesizers instead of traditional indie instrumentation, Prekop's compositional voice still found a similar playful curiosity, but diving completely into a method of expression he'd only hinted at on previous releases.
Sam Prekop’s work is nothing if not subtle. His first band, Shrimp Boat, could be all over the place, but after settling in with the Sea and Cake in 1994, his distinguished careers in music, painting, and photography have been unified in theme and overall aesthetic. He’s never been worried about repeating himself. The Sea and Cake made a few outstanding albums and a few more good ones; as a singer and guitarist, Prekop made two fine full-lengths that were different from his work in the Sea and Cake, but not markedly so.
As one forever bewitched by the dulcet tones and nimble-footed rhythms of Sam Prekop’s self-titled debut, I can sympathize with those who might be disappointed with another release of modular synthesizer experiments. But rather than give up on the guy, I was instead inclined to go back to 2010’s Old Punch Card and try to find something to latch onto. I mean, if I could love the keyboard-inclined Sea and Cake album The Fawn, I don’t see why I shouldn’t go one further and grapple with an all-synthetic habitrail of tactile sound patterns.
“For me, the cat is symbolic of the concept of ‘the state’, of this kind of surveillance mechanism; something that doesn’t blink.” That quote is from visual artist David Hartt, speaking about one of the images from his recent video installation, The Republic, which was featured at the David Nolan Gallery in New York in the early spring of 2014. The cat photograph he speaks of is the same one that graces the cover of Sam Prekop’s latest solo album, which shares its name with Hartt’s installation. And here you thought Prekop might simply be appealing to people’s endless appetite for cat pictures.
Ditching his customary melodies and guitars for analog synthesizers and oscillators, Sam Prekop's third solo album, 2010's Old Punch Card, acted as a major departure for the leader of indie rock stalwarts the Sea and Cake. On The Republic, his fourth, Prekop has again strayed from the script, releasing another batch of noisy tone poems. Splitting the 15-track LP into two parts, The Republic starts off with a nine-song modular suite — originally written for an installation at New York's David Nolan Gallery — that finds Prekop working off of singular, shapeless ideas.The album's second half seems to close the gap between Prekop's tight Sea and Cake writings and his more ethereal solo efforts.
Sam Prekop may have made his name as the singer in Chicago outfit The Sea And Cake but since 1999 his solo career has run concurrently to that of his band, averaging an album every five years. The Republic is his fourth solo album and follows 2010’s Old Punch Card in his exclusive pursuit of music created from the modular synthesiser. The album falls into two parts – the first nine tracks are named sequentially after the album title and form a body of work in their own right before being followed by a selection of other tracks that sees Prekop’s modular synth immersion take on a looser and more open nature.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Sam Prekop is better known as the leader of the jazz influenced Chicago based post-rock group The Sea and Cake, but his other interest is in the world of modular/ analogue synths. The Republic is his fourth solo album, following on from 2010's experimental Old Punch Card. The pieces here are firmly within the realm of sound art, and they have little in common with Prekop's more familiar work.
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