Luna Kafé e-zine  Luna Kafé record review
coverpic flag US - Illinois - Full Moon 230 - 06/02/15

Sam Prekop
The Republic
Thrill Jockey

According to label Thrill Jockey Records, The Republic is 'the second album of modular synthesis from The Sea and Cake's Sam Prekop. The album moves Prekop's synthesizer compositions further into the realm of the accessible without abandoning the experimental legacy of the instrument.' Well, we missed Prekop's last album, 2010's Old Punch Card (Thrill Jockey), which should be 'phase/part one' of Prekop's new direction in music. Let us drop in for a listen, shall we?

I believe The Sea and Cake still is active, but have been put on hold. Their last album, Runner, appeared some 2 and a half years ago, but I do hope their engine still will be running again some day. At least we know that the S&C gents meets now and then: Prekop and his S&C pal Archer Prewitt visited Chicago's CHIRP radio for a Chirp Factory session recently: go check your local Youtube screen - search the keywords 'Prekop' and 'Prewitt' and an AV clip will pop up pretty quick. Alternatively, you could simply dig in for the sound of it right here. The sound of cool (as the two gents sounded like when they visited Oslo for a double gig some 10 years ago - a splendid evening, it was). Anyway, The Republic is steps away from his lovely debut album, Sam Prekop and his proper second platter, Who's Your New Professor. That said, this is still music Sam Prekop style.

The Republic is a two parts album, with side A (vinyl, of course) holding nine short tracks, namely "The Republic" parts 1-9, which is/was the score for artist David Hartt's exhibition called The Republic (2014). The work consisted of three photographs, two sculptures, and one film/video (HD video, duration: 16:08). Therefore, no wonder these compositions sound quite abstract and filmic. This album's cover art is also images from Hartt's exhibition work, which seems to be something that you could spend some time to adapt/absorb/get into: 'A car thrown onto its side. When we visualize this image, we imagine a symbol of revolt. It is an attack on orientation, on forward movement, on progress - but it is also an image inescapably attached to the political domain, to capital and to the state, though the car itself is ubiquitous. It exists as a symbol that represents the facets of modern culture that are rarely visible... [...] This is the image we attach to riots. You can almost hear the chaos, the loud and garish tableau of misconduct and lawlessness that we have based our mediated experiences onto, through snapshots in newspapers, artifacts, and archives. Though we could conjure the image in relation to any number of current events, the car remains part of the iconic and distant image we categorize as a symptom of 'revolution,' in black and white, never in color, and specifically not from now.... (Stephanie Cristello, The Seen Journal, Chicago). Maybe that is a good phrase for describing this - 'not from now'. Yet, this is music from now, for now. The sound of modern times. These times. The times we live in. As Cristello continues in her view upon/review of the exhibition the film: '... features a recurring scene of four men slowly, methodically, tipping a wrecked car. They flip it on its back, spin it around so it faces backward and forward again, and ultimately flip it back to its originally, though ruined, upright position. Here, violence is in rare form. One man pauses to pick up his cell phone, others move silently and carefully, navigating the damage. It is a violence that embraces chance, the unintended and spontaneous moments of ferocity that work their way into our daily lives; a soft-anarchism that does not upheave, but affects - slowly changing the texture and form of familiar subjects into fragments of other imaginaries, other worlds.' I would say that Sam Prekop (and his music) appear to be as little violent as music can be. But his compositions is of the kind that are 'slowly changing the texture and form of familiar subjects'. Yes, that I can relate to.

Side B holds six more tracks, which I guess, do not relate to Hartt's exhibition, or film. Yet, the instrumental tracks by Prekop are indeed sounding 'filmatic'. The theme is hectic, lively and intense, and the synthesizer compositions 'oozes' with images of dim lights, dark streets, empty spaces. Well, I see these pictures in my head. Here is a cold coolness, flickering lights, small tremors and quivers. The 'landscape' is pale; most 'images' are in black and white, or with a discreet tint of vague colours. The music somehow has this 'Euro-tint' (mainly German?), as the closing track is called "Music in Paris" and the album was mastered by special engineer Andreas 'Lupo/Loop-o' Lubich in Berlin - 'Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt'. Yet, through all the man-machine cool and chill, there is a warm tone throughout the album. There is also an eerie/spooky aspect to the album, with song titles like "Ghost", "Invisible", and "The Loom". "A Geometric" adds some math web images, while "Weather Vane" adds a wind-swept touch - but also makes me think of this 'simple' rotating device as an easy-to-read apparatus for humankind to find/see where the wind blows - to take advantage of its direction, or - if necessary - to go find shelter.

Prekop's compositions - The Republic as a whole - are not the easiest of songs to dig into. However, the songs for sure have some elements of human touch to them. Prekop is a sound professor, but he is not a mad professor. He is an eccentric, and he is an artist. Again, to quote Thrill Jockey: 'Sam Prekop's music is always imbued with a sense of wide-eyed discovery and exploration'. He is on a search to find '...the perfect combination of oscillators, sequencers, limiters and filters to create a system that allows him to create sounds that are surprising and inviting.' You are welcome in to check out president Prekop's republic. Alternatively professor Prekop's laboratory.

Copyright © 2015 H. Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Sam Prekop article/review: Who's Your New Professor.

If you wish to print this review, we have a printer friendly version.

We also have 100 other articles/reviews of artists from US, Illinois in our archive:

© 2015 Luna Kafé