Samantha Vacation, Samantha’s Vacation / Postcards from Mssr Perdu

[Long Island Electrical Systems]

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Sensate Focus meets footwork on LIES016.5, the latest installment of Ron Morelli’s between-the-integers series. The “point-five” releases spotlight unknown artists while giving the label even more freedom wander into new stylistic terrain. “Samantha’s Vacation” b/w “Postcards from Mssr Perdu” is Daryl Seaver’s debut under her Samantha Vacation alias. The Chapel Hill–based musician has collaborated with Jeremy Harris on his Lazy Magnet project, but LIES016.5 has unique ideas about what underground dance music can be. Armed — according to her Soundcloud page — with an Akai S5000 sampler, an Alesis MMT-8 sequencer, and a cheap digital reverb unit, Samantha Vacation pushes her equipment to do unnatural things even by L.I.E.S.’ standards. Booming 808 kicks, sashaying hi-hat patterns, and purplish, streaked vocals move in patterns that seem to spiral ever upward. Like Mark Fell, SV’s music gives the impression of rigid order and constant change at the same time. No matter how mutable the patterns, the center somehow holds even though SV rarely alights on something as reliable as a groove for long.

Samantha Vacation, “Samantha’s Vacation”

The pointillistic B-side, “Postcards from Mssr Perdu,” sports a Blade Runner sheen. Malfunctioning invincibly like some massive interstellar junker, its jagged wheezes, chintzy claps, and tripping kick drums that fall straight into the listener’s chest aren’t as well lubricated as the A-side. But its three-minute conclusion conjures images of some monumental android basketball showdown. On both sides of the record, a bewildering number of such transformations take place in contained ten-minute bursts. But the reasoning for making “Samantha’s Vacation” the A-side is bulletproof and has little to do with technical skill. Changing direction even more impulsively, the track is cramped but not unwelcoming, its hard-edged, short-circuiting funk taking footwork ideas to an over-enthused extreme. An ingratiating introduction peters out in puddles of delay halfway through only to unexpectedly rear up into a formidable slice of DIY ghetto house — imagine a cleaned-up, manic take on “Journey I.” from LIES010.5. The moment of recognition, as catchy as it is, underscores the break this record makes with the usual styles associated with underground dance or experimental music. SV’s music takes some familiar qualities — stiffly funky sequencing and the blare of second-hand samplers — and arranges them in crisp, fractal patterns. Only about two minutes of this 12″ is dance floor-ready in the strictest sense, and the remaining 18 are there to make sure it’s irrelevant.

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