Since forming in 2006 post-punk experimentalists Sebastian Melmoth have been on a thoughtful and adventurous musical journey. In a constant state of aural evolution, the London-based four-piece has a delivered a string of albums and EPs that variously touch on everything from garage-rock, grunge and lo-fi pop, to electro, new wave, dark ambient and music concrete, all the while drawing on a myriad of literary and artistic influences.
The band’s first release for Artificial Dance digs deep into their admirable and eye-opening catalogue and draws together some of the Amsterdam-based label’s favourites from the more electronic end of the band’s output. Entitled “The Dynamics of Vanity” – a comment on Western culture’s obsession with rehashing the past and the band’s own in-built distrust of artistic naval-gazing – the set is not a ‘best of’ retrospective but rather a ‘sort of’ selection of stylistically interconnected cuts that gives a very specific snapshot of the band’s work.
Check for example “Icarus”, a drowsy, hypnotic and sample-laden soundscape that effortlessly joins the dots between post-rock, pitched-down electronica and early morning ambient, or the slowly unfurling throb of thought-provoking opener “The Engineering of Consent”, a swelling, melancholic post-jazz meditation on propaganda and governmental mind control featuring spoken word samples from William S Burroughs in conversation with Brion Gysin, Timothy Leary, Les Levine and Robert Anton Wilson.
The showcased songs are typically hard-to-pin-down, too, with the re-imagined gothic horror break-up cut “Prosopagnosia’ and slow-burn audio addition of “Waiting For Godot” being joined by the wide-eyed morning dream-pop hallucinations of “Seeds (Descent Into Decadence)”. It all adds up to a collection that expertly showcases one engaging thread – of many – running through Sebastian Melmoth’s esoteric body of work.