We’ve been avid followers of Call Super’s releases on Houndstooth for some time now and, in terms of artist development, it is a fairly safe argument to say that the career of Joe Seaton is a shining case study for the label. It aptly highlights why the unifying cause of “save our culture” for Fabric’s current plight is a valid one.
While the club has broken numerous artists and genres over the years on Charterhouse Street, Houndstooth, under the stewardship of the keen eared Rob Booth, won plaudits, retained them, and treated its roster like family. More than just a place to stick out a slab of vinyl and a WAV for your phone, the wishes of the artists are listened to. For example, Throwing Snow’s lavish coloured vinyl album and die cut sleeve was on request, and Seaton’s releases often feature his own artwork, with this including an A2 sized insert collage.
"New Life Tones demonstrates Seaton's lessons learnt in (de)constructing his album and ability to piece together the disparate influences of techno into new forms."
Regarding said development, when reviewing his long player ‘Suzi Ecto’, we noted that the carefully picked path of releases leading up to it was like a crescendo. It boldly and successfully deconstructed techno, a genre that does not suffer being shorn from its context gladly, into something defying classification. Rather than plateau, Seaton’s work has raised the bar several times since then, branching out into other territories such as The Trilogy Tapes (as Ondo Fudd), Dekmantel and Nous Disques. But it is here, back home, that we see the results of those first steps on Houndstooth, that deconstruction in ‘Suzi Ecto’, come to fruition.
Forgiving the nerdism, but much in the way that ‘Sylar’, prime antagonist of the rather ill-fated Heroes series, fatally unpicked his victims minds to learn and gain their abilities, New Life Tones demonstrates Seaton’s lessons learnt in (de)constructing his album and ability to piece together the disparate influences of techno into new forms. ‘Puppet Scene‘ touches on every element of the long player – textures that sounds like the way water cascading down sheet metal looks, disregard for any sort of “standardised” structure as it melts into dreamy beatless sections before swapping out the metronomic kick for something more broken, and then the sole instrument as a beacon, this time with piano instead of the frequent motif of clarinet from past works.
"Shut down your torrent engine and fire up your browser, head to Bandcamp and ready your PayPal... #saveourculture"
Equally intelligent is ‘New Life Repercussions‘, which contains every single facet of techno’s inherent energy without needing to lay down a four to the floor groove. You don’t even miss it, not even a seconds consideration for the presence of a steady 808 pulse, with the single long tailed boom at the start of each group of four bars providing all the anchor necessary. Beyond this is a multi-layered concoction of medical beeps, dreamy interweaving chords and the odd incidental detective thriller flourish.
With Fabric’s future uncertain, everything linked to its ecosystem is uncertain. The monthly punctuation of fresh DJ talent on their mix series, this artisanal approach to artist label, what is taken for granted will not always be. Even with the backing of what is arguably the world’s finest nightclub, the struggles of running an independent label were not foreign to Houndstooth. So consider this a plea – shut down your torrent engine and fire up your browser, head to Bandcamp and ready your PayPal…#saveourculture.
New Life Tones is out now, order a copy from Bandcamp.