London based Pictures Music began life in 2010 with a dubstep and garage infused EP from fast rising trio Dark Sky. This was closely followed by the Tourist EP from Seams, filled with colourful and minimal electronic tones in the vein of Four Tet or Gold Panda, and the debut release from Chairman Kato, a more claustrophobic EP of expansive bass-filled techno. These three releases couldn’t have been any more disparate, and quickly set out the label’s position as one that was not going to settle releasing one style of music. The release of Koreless’ 4D/MTI single, championed by Gilles Peterson and Jamie xx, saw the label propelled into the consciousness of a much wider audience.
The acclaim and adulation afforded to Gold Panda for last year’s excellent debut album Lucky Shiner might not have secured him a Mercury Award nomination but seems indicative of a shift towards acceptance for that most derided of practising musician – the bedroom producer turned laptop performer. The somewhat reclusive yet highly prodigious producer is at the forefront of a swathe of new talent who can be mischievously labelled The Second Coming Of IDM. Indeed it was at a sold out Gold Panda gig at London’s Corsica Studios where amidst scenes of girls screaming almost lecherously at the onstage Derwin Panda – essentially some hooded skinny white dude with a Macbook and an array of machinery – that a friend who has experienced the crash and burn of many a 90s IDM producer elicited his amazement at such scenes.
The reasons for this change in perception could be debated long and hard, what is clear however, is that this generation is more open to a broad range of sounds and whereas the 90s Gold Panda et al would have been sidelined by nerdish connotations, now they are willing recipients of wider praise. One such label that is excelling in these times is Pictures Music, whose output to date has been critically lauded thanks to contributions from rising artists such as Koreless, Dark Sky, Chairman Kato and Seams.
The latter Pokémon obsessed producer has close ties to Gold Panda, having remixed his breakthrough track “You” and whose smart debut for the Pictures imprint, the Tourist EP released digitally in the winter of last year, was formed from a series of field recordings gathered whilst living in Berlin. This much awaited new release from Seams is another bookmark in the continual ascent and sonic maturity of both artist and label. Having seen Seams perform around the time of each Pictures release, there was a burgeoning confidence demonstrated in his most recent live set which totally translates to the two tracks on Focus Energy.
This releases sees Seams indulge in something altogether more sweat inducing than the four tracks on his debut, the two new productions borne out of a desire to get gig attendees to dance as opposed to merely nod heads, and both achieve that with aplomb! “Focus Energy” and “Motive Order” are formed from the same ingredients but veer in thrillingly disparate directions, with the former a stripped down array of vocal stabs and deft percussion which is given plenty of upward momentum by the insistent melodic builds. In contrast “Motive Order” delights with chaotic urgency, exploding into the sort of rich, colourful textures you’d expect on Border Community. Little wonder James Holden is a fan then.
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