Imagine a planet of warm woodwind tones, humid, echoing percussion, and laser-etched neon synth shards, settling like confetti over a rubbery techno landscape. The second Call Super album zooms all over this place, restless as a pinball, crossing and recrossing the the edges of its established territory every few minutes. Arpo constantly shifts its appearance using only a handful of evocative elements, erupting in a parade of unexpected delight with every subsequent track, sounding as cohesive as it is unique.
Call Super, aka Berlin-based producer Joe Seaton, has made a defiant step forward after a debut album that announced a new superpower in the weird techno world in 2014. Suzi Ecto was as intoxicating as any strange brew from Actress or Huerco S. or Lee Gamble, but Seaton chose a risky path by starting with a fresh set of ingredients for his followup full-length. Arpo feels like affirmation for the idea that one should not rest on their laurels after massive success.
This new journey is guided along by a clarinet and oboe melody that crops up in various mutated forms throughout. From the opening fanfare to the near-title track Arpo Sunk, to the final fadeout with Out To Rust, these traditional instruments lend a deeply tangible, kinetic energy to the largely electronic production. In those opening seconds, the album might be mistaken for a modern jazz recording, so fully invested in this tactile atmosphere. When the beats come in, rubbery, hot, buoyant and ripping at the seams, the experience flips from past to future, dragging collective memory through decades of out-there techno and fourth world jazz to this sleek, high-powered meeting point.
The effect of the woodwinds can’t be overstated, adding a sense of live-action chaos as they flip from sensual to menacing and back, throbbing and squalling on the way. By extension, the purely electronic pieces are realized as hot and alive as this obviously human element. The tension between these elements snaps in slow motion along the grand arc of the album, granting an unpredictable ride to every new listen.
For a listener predisposed to the tangible psychedelia of weird jazz and the inner-hyperspace warp of deep techno, Arpo is an absolute revelation. The album’s high wire ambition and singular tonal focus remind me of Aphex Twin‘s misunderstood epic Drukqs, where the IDM wunderkind jettisoned a decade’s worth of familiar building blocks and used a computer-controlled piano to conjure a new high speed sound world. Both albums share a comprehensive ultra-sensory approach, forcing a new plane of existence into being with a highly specific set of tools.
The album can be heard streaming in full on Bandcamp: