Monday, 6 October 2014

EP Review - Kapil Seshasayee - Automaton

An Automaton  opens with two thuds.  Quiet static and a cymbal lead-in follow.  The stuttering percussive introduction is similar to that of an engine starting.  The opening refrain is offhand and Kapil Seshasayee employs an ascending melody that is leaden and constant.  His vocals are simple and clean and the faint clicks, hisses and fizzes add further complexity.  The acoustic drum heard at the first chorus is precise and expands with the vocals.  A darker guitar riff takes hold and the filtered synth accompaniment provides a perfect backcloth.  There is mechanism to Kapil’s sound, a marching industrialism heard best in this, the title track.  The final cadences are pleasant and the listener is given the melody in almost pure form, with the high-end filter creating a distant euphoria and the cymbal-led calando acting as an appropriate come down.

Minotaur  follows and opens with a mesmeric, bass drum-heavy looped beat, something near Yu-Gung  by Einstürzende Neubauten.  The subsequent off-beat guitars are redolent of Strung To Your Ribcage  by Kilmarnock rockers Biffy Clyro.  The harsh rhythm is complimented by the ensuing vocals and overarching repetition.  The latter guitar solo is dirty and aggressive, ending the track abruptly.

A Raining Animal Event  serves as the conclusion to the EP and is a track of three parts.  The guitars, a captivating blend of stringed harmonics and hooks, act as a dreamy accompaniment to the vocals.  The line “For a single moment when you lost your place” highlights that all is not as unconscious in Kapil’s life as the mechanical theme of the EP would suggest.  However, the nonpareil of the track is the absence of percussion, allowing the listener to appreciate Kapil’s ear for melody and talent as a songwriter, so often hidden beneath the domineering beat mapping.  An example of this songwriting talent is the allegro moderato employed in the middle of this piece, acting ironically as a part-rhythm.

On first listen the final moments of the EP appear linear, with a simple vocal being sung over a single throbbing bass note.  Cracks in the mechanism become apparent on repeated listens, revealing the complexity of the inner workings of this self-automated machine.  Some may argue that Kapil could have been more inventive with his vocals, perhaps adding further layers or harmonies; this may be heard in future releases.  Nevertheless, the plain vocals, touched often only by studio compression, are in some way what Automaton  represents – a transmitted torque, with the purity of Kapil’s voice working in tandem with the mathematical rhythms and compound melodies.

- Andrew Kidd

Kapil Seshasayee - Automaton  is out now and can be found here.

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