Though their taut, driving motoric music might scream of 70’s West Germany, Sei Still are, in from Mexico City. Their machine-like sonic experimentations emerging not out acid-fuelled jam sessions in some underground communal space tucked away in this or that German city but, instead, three friends taking a random trip to desolate Mexican woodland to work on a couple of songs that would end up leading them to start a fully-fledged band.
It was Lucas Martin (Guitar/Vocals), Mateo Sanchez (Guitar/Vocals) and Andres Lupone (Bass/Vocals) that would embark on that formative woodland excursion but, now fleshed out into a full band, they’re also joined by Sebastian Rojas (Synth/Organ) and Jeronimo Martin (Drums). The record itself also bolstered by the production of Hugo Quezada, who they describe as “an icon from the Mexican underground scene and a true synthesizer aficionado.” As well as the given indebtedness to bands like Can, NEU! and the minimalism movement, together, Sei Still say that the album also take great inspiration from Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’, ‘Easy Rider’ (the concept of the road has always been a present image of our collective imaginary) and the aesthetics of Spanish new-wave bands like Aviador Dro and Décima Víctima.”
Now signed to European label Fuzz Club and ready to transmit their angular Krautrock to a trans-Atlantic audience, Sei Still have spent the last few years cultivating a notorious reputation in their native Mexico, sharing the stage with the likes of Stereolab, Kikagaku Moyo, Holy Wave, Institute, New Candys, 10 000 Russos and Lorelle Meets the Obsolete.
Opening track ‘Blumenkriege’ features distorted layers of guitar and hazy female vocals which are reminiscent of Stereolab and also touch on the sound’s coming out of Japan; think Kikagaku Moyo. The unrelenting motorik instrumentation overlaid with lush ethereal vocals courtesy of close friend Mabe Fratti and swirling analogue synths. Lead track ‘El Camino’, which they say “represents the group’s idea of movement, something that’s never static and is always changing, like life itself” is a driving NEU!-esque wig-out, propelled by a sharp repetitive bassline so tight you can physically feel the tension building and building, never letting loose for a second. It takes all the best parts of krautrock and adds an energy and intensity that is all their own. This continues into ‘Emisión’ which has extra feedback laced between the ominous atmospherics that only add further tension until the guitar riff cuts through like a knife, allowing the music to soar.
‘Fortuna’ and ‘Televisión’ fuse motorik backdrops with eerie spoken vocals, hypnotic synths and phaser-heavy guitars that create a more psychedelic ambience than the preceding tracks a show a softer side to the band, with delicate harmonies and fading layers of sound that creep in and out effortlessly. ‘Ladrón’ is a Spacemen 3 inspired, drone intense track which has every to like and nothing not in keeping with the rest of the album, it provides the perfect build up to the 10-minute album-closer ‘Tácticas de Guerrilla Urbana’ which stretches the Sei Still sound to its outermost limits. It speaks more of Can than the previous tracks and is probably the finest track the album offers up, purely because it takes a bit of everything and typifies their sound in the most gloriously trance-inducing way.
They create a sound deceptively complex and hauntingly beautiful, as soon as the record finishes you want to go straight back in and listen again to hear the bits you missed first time round. It has the same effect after ten listens, a sure sign of the highest quality offering.