SEIMS – Four: Album Review

The SEIMS juggernaut of experimental Post/Math Rock hits a peak with some stunning creations on the new album, Four.

Release Date: 22nd October 2021

Label: Art As Catharsis/ Bird’s Robe / Dunk Records (Europe)

Format: digital / CD / vinyl

Although Simeon Bartholomew has a firm hold over the reins and the direction of SEIMS, the erstwhile solo project has grown legs and evolved into a band whose exploration and experimental approach has grown in stature across a series of albums. Four may well be a peak as they skirt electro, post rock and beyond with an overdose of instrumental ambition.

As well as Simeon performing bass, guitars, synths, piano & vocals himself, Four also features inspired and blistering performances from Plini drummer Chris Allison, Kat Hunter & Susie Bishop on violins & Tangents/FourPlay member Peter Hollo on cellos who add a lovely wash and depth to the sonic pallette.

Bookended by The Mountain’s Lullaby (gentle yet shape shifting into an ominous maelstrom of intent) and The Mountain’s Scream (as it says on the tin, a much more fraught and hysterical piece), another eight tracks conjure up all manner of images that provide a musical snapshot of their evocative titles.

Those snapshots come in the form of a Sixties theme tune drama on A Shadow Without A Victim with skittering drums and an urgency that increases in boldness, to Biting Tongues where any suggestions that this is a starker piece is soon ditched after a dreamy chant about voices in the head to reveal an explosive release powered by shrill, freak out guitar and a punk attitude spilling over from Cyan on the 3 album. Shouting At A Brick Wall also displays a similar contrast. Sparse and airy initially, it erupts down a similarly raw and vital punky passage that crosses paths with a brassy alternativeness.

The beautiful Elegance Over Confidence is a track where we simply have to share the the band’s thoughts about its “simplicity within complexity for showmanship’s sake. An ever-changing rotation of open-phrasing being talked over by a rotation of 9/8 + 5/8 viola, cello and piano movements. As we move through the passage of 14/8 over 4/4, we come out at Theme C – pure musical confidence in its single-mindedness – guitar and bass in Em 4/4 over a “four-to-the-floor” disco beat. You can’t get more rudimentary than that.” And so say all of us…

That trademark dynamism continues to weave a path across the album. Perhaps most successfully on Nuances Lost In Translation where the shift from the atmosphere of the opening sequence builds ever so slowly. Less of the shock factor as the build is almost unnoticeable as the strings lift and carry the piece with some delicate tuned percussion. Undulating and unpredictable – in a good way – Four offers an experience which never settles for for long in one place in a concession to the ease of a comfortable ride. It’s bold album that delivers the promise.

Look out for Simeon’s upcoming Why I Love feature where he writes for us about the influence of Post Rock outfit Tortoise.

Here’s Elegance Over Confidence:

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