Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Good Generic Minimal Tech House 2: Sebo K

After my Maya Jane Coles appreciation/generic minimal tech-house moan , I'm going to sound hypocritical commencing a series of posts praising the very generic nature of this music, but what the hell... this is pretty darn good. Sebo K makes strong tracks, and was among those responsible, along with Efdemin, Lawrence and doubtless a bazillion lesser-known-and-unsung others, back in the mid-late naughties for championing bigger housier sounds within the pervading mnml scene of the day, and it's a sound he's hardly altered. Indeed like everyone in minimal house land its one they do nothing but refine. I first heard him on Mobilee's Back to Back comp with the still stunning 'Moved' with Prosumer, then via his podcast for RA in early 2007. This, along with Efdemin's two podcasts later, seemed to signal a shift in mainstream-underground minimal house, at least as sign-posters like RA documented it.

Sebo K feat. Prosumer: 'Moved'

Sebo K: RA Podcast 55

I saw Sebo K and Efdemin play shortly after their 'casts at RA's June '07 off-Sonar party in Barcelona, and while too wasted to actually remember anything danced my socks off from open til' close. Philip Sherburne was there too, playing to an empty room upstairs, but when he heard Sebo K he rushed to the front of the floor and danced all night too. As we see today, it's an endearing sound.

Four-and-a-half years later and the variants of minimal house have actually narrowed, with more tracks than ever trading on the basic template these - and yes many many others - housey minimalists have been hammering for years. We're at the asymptote of the development of a kind of perfect dance music, or at least a perfected form of minimal house, but one that, of course, can never be reached. It's this kind of fruitless pursuit, this Quixotic quest for the unattainable, that good generic minimal house sets capture, driving along that endless highway, on a dead-straight road, devoid of the kinds of heights and dips that come with more dynamic, and less focused, sets. Even mnml jerked and twitched in ever so annoying ways.

So, to Sebo K's mix at the 2011 Mobilee Off-Sonar Party: 3 hours of sleak, streamlined, bumpin' generic minimal tech house. All changes are slight, with each track offering subtle variants on the tools and structures of its neighbours. Like the digi-dancehall instramentals praised here these tracks are (for the most part) cookie-cutter jigsaw pieces, pure 'tools' with little identity outside of the group (but where I celebrated the isolated oddness of those dancehall tracks here there's little to get excited about individually). Where Sebo K is good is in his restraint, holding back the tension such that you're always (almost) on the edge of your seat but, it being the kind of wishy-washy genre it is, you never are, really... This teetering contradiction is the whole point and one Sebo K does well here - avoiding boredom by embracing sameness, celebrating it. Like Cage said: If something is boring for one minute do it for ten, then an hour, then two hours... Sebo K does it for 3 and it pretty much works.

In its fluid linearity this reminds me of stellar microhouse sets like those by Kettenkarussell , but with a different agenda: Sebo K - and most/all minimal tech house DJs - is more about funk, groove and sashaying movement, albeit in a compressed and blankly repetitive manner, with a shallower expression of emotion, more warmth, greater diversity, more by-rote and perfunctory (all intentional and not necessarily pejorative), whereas Kettenkarussell... is another story...

Sebo K - mobilee & friends - Sonar 2011 - Hotel Diagonal Saturday by mobilee records

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