“Sometimes you just gotta do it yourself!”, I’m sure that’s what many of us have said at one time or another when things haven’t gone our way or when we knew we could have done a better job than someone else. It seems London producer James Yates (under the moniker “Seamajesty”) knows all about “doing it yourself” as he completely played, recorded, mixed and mastered his upcoming release Seamajestea. Having played drums for bands such as The Pattern Theory, The Declining Winter, The Ocean and epic45 helped James Yates hone in on a direction for his Seamajesty project; and what an interesting direction it is!
Seamajestea is an absolute kaleidoscope of sound and colour. Each track brings up images of neon pinks and yellows, and I could totally dig watching Miami Vice with Seamajestea blaring in the background! “Say Awake” kicks off Seamajestea with a bang and is arguably one of the finest tracks on the album. Short, at just over 2 minutes long, “Say Awake” is just damn cool with a grooving drum beat opening the track and dreamy synths building up to the climax of the song which ends with a brilliant drum piece (the live playthrough video of the song is really impressive!). Also worth a mention are the haunting backing vocal hums that are peppered throughout the song which is a masterful touch to an almost perfect song; if only it were longer.
RELEASE DATE: 01 December 2014 LABEL: Plain Sailing Records
One isn’t feeling disappointed for too long at the previous track’s length though as “Abacat” quickly picks things up from the first track. There is a real tropical feel to “Abacat” and I felt myself being transported to somewhere with white sands, palm trees and endless coconuts! The body of the song consists of a groovy bassline and drumbeat with a happy sounding synth melody being played atop. A short middle section played on piano is both unexpected yet welcome and really ties together the beginning and end of the song.
“Double Carb” is an interesting track, being mostly an ambient track of sorts which starts off with a driving drum beat but quickly changes to a lush soundscape of bells, otherworldly synthesizers and even chirping birds. The track then changes pace and becomes almost drum n’ bass-like with a jittering bass beat ending things off. Although interesting, I felt that the whole track was a tad too disjointed.
“English Summer” is another standout track on Seamajestea. The track begins very upbeat and is reminiscent of dance and electronica groups such as Daft Punk. We are also exposed to some of the very sparse vocals to be found throughout Seamajestea. Similar in structure to “Double Carb”, an ambient piece fills out the middle portion of “English Summer”, but this works much better in comparison to “Double Carb” with deep bass, drums, bells and synths layering on top of one another to fully build a large and engrossing soundscape. “Lyme” is an absolutely gorgeous acoustic guitar piece which serves as a wonderful mid-album interlude, but also as an ending piece to “English Summer” with the one leading into the other flawlessly. The lo-fi sound which permeates throughout Seamajestea really shines on “Lyme”. Sliding along the guitar strings and slight twangs in the chord changes can be heard which is refreshing to hear in an age of many overproduced albums which lack a certain human touch.
“Popcorn Salted” is notable for its consistent deep bass drops accompanied by meandering synths and bells played over top. The sounds are soothing and child-like and reminded me of the fantastic work done by Swedish instrumentalists Wintergatan. “Teufels” is the standout ambient track on Seamajestea. The samples for this track were recorded in an abandoned cold war era USAF listening station in Berlin. The sounds are absolutely eerie and unnerving to say the least and you can really get an idea of the size and emptiness of the building the samples were recorded in. The reverb is delicate and natural and imparts an ethereal quality to the humming that can be heard throughout. “Stanley Yelnats” is an OK track but definitely the weakest on the album; the glitchy electro-style end section of the track ruined it a bit for me as the song starts off strongly with some catchy Nintendo sounding tones and bassy beats.
Seamajestea ends off strongly with “Steel” and “Popcorn Sweet”. “Steel” is notable for its use of steel drums which had me floating off to the clear oceans of the Caribbean. Vocals are utilised again to great effect and the track builds up to and ends on a wonderful drum n’ bass style section which will have most listeners bopping their heads to and fro. “Popcorn Sweet” is more an outro track than anything else, but it ends Seamajestea off on a perfect note and harkens back to “Popcorn Salted” with each track being a slightly different side to the same coin.
Seamajesty really impressed me with Seamajestea. I am not normally partial to anything 80’s or electro-pop sounding, but I was completely sold by the fun, up-beat and unique approach taken on Seamajestea. The lo-fi sound found on the album is really refreshing to hear in this day and age of overproduction and the creative approaches taken on tracks such as “Teufels” are commendable. I was yearning though for more concise and rocking tracks such as “Say Awake” as the album slows down a bit in the middle section making the overall listening experience seem longer than it really is. I look forward to hearing more from Seamajesty none the less and I could definitely see James Yates following in the footsteps of popular do-it-yourself artists such as Ben Sharp from Cloudkicker and Scott Hansen of Tycho.