Release Date: Sep 30, 2013
Record label: Full Time Hobby
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental Techno, IDM
I saw Jamie Welch (aka Seams) open a show years ago for Gold Panda and Dam Mantle, and though his debut album still retains an air of that UK glitch scene, the understated and wonderful electro heritage of Berlin – his current residence – is now well entrenched and by his own admission. Either way, off the back of two great EPs and a tantalizing assortment of remixes, it’s about time Seams decided where to plant his roots. Taking cues from greats such as James Holden and unlikely ignorant of folk such as Moderat, Quarters is best summed up as a minimalist, melodic post-techno record (dare I say EDM?), one in which the focus is on tight builds and impeccable pacing.
Last year, James Welch (aka Seams) released his excellent double EP, Tourist/Sleeper, to great reviews, but arguably less fanfare than it deserved. Quarters (the young UK producer's debut album proper) therefore arrives with some degree of anticipation and raised expectations. What sets Quarters (named after the various corners of Berlin the producer has lived in) apart from the slew of releases by other young, electronic producers? Compositionally, not that much — opening track "ClapOne" could be a recent Daphni track, while "Constants" screams Border Community — but the production is close to perfection.
Seams is the trading name of one Jami Welch, a Hampshire-born musician who now lives in Berlin, where he works for Soundcloud and creates electronic music. A pair of EPs – Tourist and Sleeper – picked up positive reviews last year; Quarters is his debut full-length album. Quarters is – barring one Caribou-esque vocal sample on ClapOne – a wholly instrumental work built from a series of cross-hatching, synthesised riffs, ranging from the microscopic (as on the slow-burning Sitcom Apartment), to the pummelling (the jackhammer keyboards of Iceblerg).
Seams, AKA James Welch, is a British glitch scene kid turned Berlin-based producer, and his debut has an appropriate travelogue feel. Interweaved synthesiser patterns, electronic handclaps and subtle textures create a feel of sound in motion. He's not one to hurl the kitchen sink into his music. Most of it is very minimalist, so when he does introduce a new texture or melody it kicks things up a gear.
Titled Quarters because it was recorded at four locations across Berlin, this is James Welch's first proper album, following an ultra-limited cassette and a handful of singles and EPs released from 2010 through 2012. While the vast majority of electronic producers have gravitated to Berlin for the city's well-known dance scene, Welch -- an Englishman -- continues to make melodic home-listening tracks. He has admitted that he doesn't dance, and he rarely hits clubs, but there's nothing insular about his productions.
It’s best to leave haughty techno purism at the door when confronted with the debut Seams album. James Welch, its creator, makes loop-based electronica from his Berlin base, but pays scant regard to the city’s club scene, and was initially inspired by Beck and Tunng. Despite this, ‘Quarters’ doesn’t map uncharted territory. Tracks are generally unhurried, bucolic and use lo-fi textures as tools.