Chra – Seamans

Within seconds and without mercy, Seamans pulls you into its electronic depths. The record simultaneously builds itself up and tears itself down, like democracy in America, while in actuality, vicious, vertigo-inducing waters are swirling beneath the surface. Seamans is an advanced and progressive album, but a part of it wants to regress, prone to self-destruction and instability. New muscle is built from the rupture of the old; new skin covers coagulating blood underneath an old wound, and the same is true of this record.

Chra is the alias of Austrian musician Christina Nemec. Recorded in Vienna, Waldviertel, Crete, on planes and in cemeteries, Nemec’s music constantly shifts in the air, inverting and turning in on itself. Overdrive froths up and threatens to consume the speakers, and what sounds like a distorted tornado whirls around ‘Vicious Water Regimes’, creating a powerful vortex.

Raging and vengeful, its heartbeat racing due to live currents of tension and anxiety, Seamans is dark and inescapable electronic music. Like the truth, the strangled melodies are muffled and suppressed, voices longing for coherency but being repressed by government agencies or forces high on power, changing, editing, and adapting the original message to suit their version of events. The voice can’t converse or articulate anything save from a series of choking blips and stutters; their potential drags and lags behind and the electronics suffocate.

The music does nothing to encourage the stuttering or its current state of suffering, but neither does it push it away. In that sense, the music is complicit in the feeling of growing unease and the subsequent fall. A submerged voice becomes trapped underwater, and echoing bubbles of sound rise up to the surface. The music escapes from any kind of rhythmic regularity so that it feels suspended in an electronic ether.

‘Let Sharks Sleep’ has a demented melody that slips and slides around in a helter-skelter, unbalanced way, its tones appearing deranged and almost hysterical with plenty of warbling pitch-shifts and recurring loops. ‘Widow Walks’ is similarly dark and haunted. The sounds are incomplete, ghostly reminders of something that has fallen apart. Both progressive and regressive, Seamans is music of engagement and suppression.

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