After releasing his first two LPs on Houndstooth, Joe Seaton's latest album, Every Mouth Teeth Missing, is out via Incienso Records. If you know anything about Incienso, you know this isn't surprising. The label, after all, is the home-ground of DJ Python, aka Brian Pineyro. Musically, Seaton and Pineyro are two peas in a pod. Both are known for their organic, all-natural sound design and their love of smudgy, saturated textures as if every little synth has been dipped in a miry bog. Both have a confounding ability to make body music sound ambient and make the modular sound natural.
Even more so than Pineyro, however, Seaton has an obsessive attention to detail and a love of found sounds in his music. Birdsong, cricket-song, and rolling water play over lush pads and loose, kinetic beats. Seaton has a way of turning dance music on its head, reducing it to something earthy and primal, like techno made without technology.
As Call Super, the studio guru took this approach to new heights on his last LP, Arpo. While Seaton's music had always been rich in sound design, Arpo symbolized a great leap forward in songcraft. The album fused his characteristic fourth world sound with a richer orchestral vibe. Its defining feature was the clarinet, played by his father, David Seaton.
On Every Mouth Teeth Missing, his father's clarinet makes just one cameo in "Pay As U Glow". As a whole, this LP is more stripped back than Arpo or its predecessor Suzi Ecto. The compositions are minimal and more focused on pure rhythm. It's like techno distilled to its bones and endoplasm.
Take the title track, where soft cymbals and needlepoint kick drums play over a two-note bassline and purring, insectoid sound effects. It's one of the most delicate pieces in Call Super's discography. Around the 3:30 mark, a series of synths sweep in, bearing the imprint of a human voice vocoded beyond recognition. Like all the best Call Super moments, it isn't quite clear where the digital begins and the natural ends. The two worlds are diffused in each other.
Delicate as much of the album is, however, it's generally far from boring. There are some unforgettable beat slowdowns and switch-ups here, most notably on "Welcome New People" and "Opperton Swim". The former is probably the trippiest piece on the LP. Here, clucky percussion and ambient keyboards pair themselves with an infectious bassline that continually rises in pitch. About a minute and a half in, the bass-line gets slower and sludgier. The rest of the track around it still maintains its normal pace, making the slowdown all the more mesmerizing and psychedelic. "Opperton Swim" is less sludgy but no less weird. The track opens with a series of waterlogged synths, distant keyboard splashes, and rickety kick drums before totally changing gears around the three-minute mark. The drums get faster, clubbier, and more metallic. Tracks like these keep the LP from being too painstaking or laborious, which it occasionally becomes.
By far, the strangest piece on Every Mouth is "Mouth Bank Bed". It's unlike anything Seaton's ever made. Here, a creaking oboe and distant violins are fused with eerie, digitized vocals that are cut up and fractured so that they're nearly impossible to decipher. The song is full of twitching and flapping noises, like some great electronic insect beating its wings. It may be the only drumless track on the LP, but it's arguably the most immersive and evocative.
Occasionally the album's minutiae-skimming tendencies get in the way of its overall songcraft. Every Mouth emphasizes texture over melody, and sometimes to a fault. "Sleep All Night With Open Eye" features some haunting piano and chilling wind sound effects, but the song itself feels more like a half-baked array of interesting sounds than an actual song. It's a bit directionless. On "Ekkles", we get a beautiful midi-flute passage and classic 1990s house groove, but the song's fractal, intersecting drum patterns feel like a cover-up for its bland song structure. Fans of Arpo's warm, springy, orchestral tone may find Every Mouth Teeth Missing a bit too tedious for their tastes.