Roberto Carlos Lange is Epstein and Epstein's new record, Sealess See, is the sound of the world. It's like dude's MPC sampler is strung up on every telephone wire, duct taped to every bus stop, hidden in every mailbox and wire-tapped to every telephone in an 800 block radius of his Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment. It's a gushing, fluid surge into the mics and sampler—everything rumbling in, breathing, gasping, talking, joyous, sweaty, digesting, clattering, laughing. And what comes out? Bass and beats, bro. Soundscape dance jams—warm and earthy and human. It's noise-influenced but structurally tight—a slow wash of drones and percussion morphing into hot, humid, end-of-summer blockparty music.
If Lange's Epstein project were a fruit it would be mango—sweet, tropical, subtle, a thing you can use for just about everything from food to flavor, medicine to decorative ceremonial artifact. Epstein music is versatile, open-ended—good for bumpin' in the car while you're stuck in traffic, great at home or on the iPod or in a club gettin' your whatever on. It's like some kind of superhero handyman who can build your house, dig a boombox-shaped pool, and wire your living room for foundation-shaking sound.
Over the course of 17 tracks, Sealess See is a beachy landscape of summer sound. The key word here is—of course—sea. This new full-length is Lange exploring ideas of swimming and drowning, of weird sea animals and full psychic immersion. It's a record that feels like a thing born from water—a warbling undersea journey from balmy surface to cool sun-filtered depths. (Imagine an octopus's garden party only with DJs instead of Beatles.)
Sealess See's first track, “Jellyfish,” begins with a hypnotic Harmonia-esque mantra that's as informed by compositional minimalism as it is old school hip-hop. Like the much-used sample says, this-this-this is a journey into sound and as “Jellyfish” segues into “Foam on Top” you'll know you're in for a sunny, grooved-out vacation, a pulsing, swelling, sampler-bred submarine ride with loop textures for the Animal Collective kids, distorted reverb haze for the Surfer Blood/Wavves set, and enough bass and beats for everybody still sporting their raggedy old Run-DMC ADIDAS. (Check the stats and then do the math: Lange's home-recording set-up is an MPC 2000 XL, Arp Odyssey, Scully 280 1/4" 2 track, Pro Tools, SM 57, Echoplex Tape Machine, Arion SAD-1, and a Technics 1200. That's where this party comes from.)
By track three, “Seashells and Starfish,” a subtle, flowering electro epic a la F**k Buttons, the aesthetic is firmly set—steady, mood-shifting, pedals looping infinite, a full dinner menu of mellow, dusky sound. These are collages (Lange likens Epstein music to graffiti, a direct mind-to-mics recording experience) where a whole prismatic spectrum of sound comes through your speakers, a colorful bouillabaisse of influences, samples rising up out of the broth, surprising drum breaks, and hyper-visual, gently blown-out noise asides. The music comes and goes, bumps out like an anthem and then disappears into oscillating tones. Track five, “And Octopus Tongue,” is a pop jam chopped and chipped. “Cuttlefish” comes on like a '70s mellow gold movie soundtrack done MPC-style while “Crabs Walk” is a downtempo instrumental hip-hop radio hit for the year 2525.
By the final track, the breezy Panda Bearian “Orange in the Ocean,” you're left with a rich and satisfying piece of Lange's current headspace. You can almost see him in his crowded apartment in Brooklyn, his newly-moved stuff stacked and pack-ratted all around him, bent over his MPC sampler, rollin' the tape, head nodding with a new beat, sweating through a hot summer, all the sounds of the world coming through the window, all the sounds of his backfile of memory rematerializing into the songs, the block parties and dance clubs, Ecuadorean folk songs and cumbia rhythms. This is the latest summation of Roberto Carlos Lange. Turn it up loud and hear the whole world...
released 25 January 2011
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