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James Pants - Seven Seals


I’m not sure what, you the reader, precipitates your thoughts when hearing a piece of music that turns out to be a classic. Whilst I’m not suggesting that this particular album is going to be, my own processes have a history of flicking the next track button on the CD player ready to discard it before hearing a glimpse of something that you’ve not heard before, ever. And that’s what has happened with “Seven Seals”. It’s been a constant fixture in my playlist ever since.

Pants (real name Singleton) is already a man with a burgeoning reputation, being somewhat lionised by all the hipper-than-thou media providers and to be honest he’s something of a hipster’s wet dream. Texan in origin, his music and influences touches all the right buttons, from the slick electrofunk of Egyptian Lover (hell the great man even remixed him) to the droney nihilism of Suicide and dry proto-industrialism of the 80’s Minimal Wave scene, which is at the forefront of label Stone’s Throw output right now. Add a great vocal range, a faint whiff of psychedelia that recalls fellow Texans the 13th Floor Elevators and decadent humour, and you’ve got a potent mix of intriguing ideas and aesthetics.

“Seven Seals”, apparently influenced by cult readings, is a ramshackle, clattering album that never veers too far from a decidedly lo-fi production feel. Its 15 tracks are all short in length, but each one has their own character - in some instances Pants decides on a polarising effect - “Beyond Time” oscillates savagely between crashing drums and bucolic synthesizers, and on “Not Me”, the influence of Alan Vega hovers on top of a bed of deafening rhythms and squalid electronics. Although there is something of a “punk” feel to  most of”Seven Seals”, it’s probably more to do with the DIY fee in production rather than any aggression. Pants* shows a sophisticated range of song writing styles, from the languid groove of “Chip in the Hand” to the decadent, no-wave dirge of “Wormhole”. There’s a refreshing range of emotions on display, like on the album’s best track, “Sky Warning”, where his vocals veer towards that of a crooner,  and on “Thin Moon”, the light electroboogie is more reminiscent of Canadian duo The Junior Boys. “I promise I lied” is a coruscating mix of motorik and emphatic synths that frustratingly doesn’t last as long as it should.

Apart from the refreshing, unudulating journey through textures and tracks laden with hooks, there’s an edgy aspect to “Seven Seals” that Pants doesn’t let go of. It’s a hodge-podge of ideas, songwriting and styles that somehow manages to work as a single entity, and is born of a particular spirit that makes it stand out. It would be easy to pick apart the various styles and influences, but to his credit Pants has created something unique in character. Highly recommended.

Toby Frith

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