Over Thanksgiving weekend, Scuba’s Hotflush label posted “another good review” of Sepalcure’s self-titled debut album, the label’s latest release. Sepalcure has attracted praise since its inception in 2009, when U.K. producers Praveen Sharma (Praveen And Benoit) and Travis Stewart (aka Machinedrum) started to mix together out of boredom. The duo has received nods from the U.K. bass goddess of Xfm, Mary Anne Hobbs, and toured with L.A. beat king Flying Lotus, and its latest release has been lauded by Pitchfork on down and frequents the air and netwaves of bass programs like East Village Radio’s Worldwide Smash. Evidently, Sepalcure is beloved by the bourgeoisie of bassheads.
Sepalcure certainly sounds bougie and narcissistic: lush waves of bass-heavy melody, dramatic diva vocals reverberated into unearthly voices, deep kicks and clip-clopping beats. With its nose held high, Sepalcure’s music walks the line between the bedroom and the dancefloor, not quite appropriate for either. Although the tempo has got to be around 130 beats per minute, the producers’ tendencies to haunt and pulse and slide with instrumentation give the music a dash of syrup. It’s too cavernous and intangible to dance to but too wired for relaxation.
Most of the album occupies a space between the high-tempo two-step dancehall beat of “The One” and the beatless, yawning and sighing expanse of “Outside.” The tracks tend to pursue the same trippy, complex (and pretty yonic, or is it just me?) aesthetic as the album artwork. Its swirling rhythms are weirdly engrossing and pretty, but they’re too fast-paced to listen to while wallowing. The screwed-down vocal sample in “See Me Feel Me” mingles with a deep and unrelenting beat, at once spacey and restless, a reoccurring feeling nurtured by the duo’s lovely basswork.
Machinedrum and Praveen chose to experiment with different beats to produce a similar mood, showing off a variety of different styles that meet in a similar emotional state: spaced-out, wide-eyed, rich, dramatic. Sepalcure’s bass music, like that of James Blake, doesn’t come from the “testosterone-driven environments” that have inspired much of American bass. Sepalcure’s music comes from a moodier, darker place—and probably one with more caviar.