EP Review: Sepia – Instinct

As an artist that we have been listening and (mostly) skanking too for a long time – Sepia has struck us down with his ever-dynamic sound – exhibited most clearly in his recent release on Infernal Sounds, Instinct EP.

Infernal Sounds: IFS010

It should be noted that Sepia has by no means dedicated himself to one genre or dubstep in particular. As he states on his Facebook, there are ‘no boundaries, just sounds.’ In any case the sounds that he creates range incredibly. From wobbly and unpredictable 160 footwork beat patterns – seen in his recent Get 2 Werk EP, released in April – to the moody and atmospheric mixes of ambient garage in You Will Never Know Me, his inventory of creative samples and complex beat patterns seems endless. Listen back to his 160 tracks and you’ll feel like contorting your body into shapes you wouldn’t have thought were possible. His footwork refix of Sampha’s Too Much is a favourite of ours as the soft tones of Sampha’s voice are diced up into thousands of juicy segments, making up a unique rhythm. Moving the tempo down to 140, Sepia often manages to combine gentle acoustic samples and chords, such as the guitar in Regret with a single shifting bassline tone that morphs itself effortlessly around the structure of each track. Of course, this Deep Dark and Dangerous release had plenty of darkness – brought home by the weighty and mutated bass fanfare of the A-side Eclipse. A simple glance at Sepia’s rich portfolio of sounds undoubtedly demonstrates his dynamic production and flare.

Awaken – the first track of the EP gives us an initially gentle introduction. A minimalistic and light cymbal pattern enters, baiting our breath for the imminent bassline. One of the most effective and original elements of the beat in this track is the occasional clatter of a Spanish castanet – bringing in an exotic feel. A somewhat distant synth dances slowly in a loop, joining the fluttering cymbals in anticipation. When the bass charges in, these synths begin to flutter down a short scale in quick repetition. One can’t help feeling as if this rhythm ties in with the artwork itself – a dark, mystical desert, its bright stars lined up in a scale over three looming pyramids. The low ends of this track follows Sepia’s signature pulsing characteristics as they punch holes in the gentle synth loops – emerging from the wilderness to give the rhythm its great weight. The ‘drummer’ producer is certainly at the forefront of this production as we are graced with a fill at the end of several sections where the light cymbals, chimes and echoed rim shots climb another scale and finish in offbeat complexity.

Instinct takes a darker route – bringing in the lower ends of the track to form a more significant part. Short cymbal claps begin quietly, joined by a knocking that can only be described as if the bass is politely asking to be let in. From the other side of the door – a roar of reverb is let out as a kick is introduced. A mostly inaudible, echoed voice tells us to ‘forget facts…just trust and believe.’ Our faith and belief is indeed welcomed with that pulsing bassline that takes command over the minimised percussion – the knocking carries out. Towards the second part of the section, bongos begin to tap away and fill the rhythm – giving away tropical tones that are swathed in a contrasting wave of bass.

On the flip – we are treated to a track that will most definitely bounce the heads of any dance. The track’s name itself, Mordecai, is aptly named after the great character depicted in the Book of Esher in the Hebrew Bible. The track matches its title with a beat of biblical proportions – carrying on the mystical Middle-Eastern image depicted on the record sleeve. A heavily distorted sitar-like riff is given to us, as if being received over a weak radio signal – communicated from another realm. The bassline follows with trap 808s and rolling claps that complete the tracks’ bouncing essence. At around the two-minute mark – the fills rise in complexity as the track reaches its divine climax. This one will surely be worshipped, reloaded and worshipped again. Amen.

We are thrown into the shadows of Sepia’s dark and mysterious realm one last time in Sekhmet. Named after the Ancient Egyptian warrior goddess who wears the crown of a cobra and perched upon her lioness head. A soft sax introduces the track – courtesy of Tailored Sound, Bristolian sax player for the mighty Sinai Sound and Dub Smuggler’s sound systems. The gentle tones beautifully cut through Sepia’s twinkling synth loop and minimalistic bass kick and snare. The sax/synth combination gives off a hypnotic and trance like vibe – designed to charm the listener and take them on a journey into the unknown. This magical track closes the curtain on this EP – a diverse mix of darkness, beauty and musical mythology. We bow are heads in worship.

Listen here.

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