Review: Segue – Pacifica

Segue Pacifica

Segue (Jordan Sauer) is a Canadian producer, releasing music via a small collection of labels including Silent Season and Under the Spire. In his recent “Pacifica” album for Silent Season, Segue takes us through a nostalgic dream-inducing ambient dub stroll, simultaneously reminiscent of Yagya’s “The Rhythm of Snow” and Boards of Canada’s “The Campfire Headphase.”

“West Coast Rain” and “Honest and Truly” set the stylistic themes and mood for the rest of the album. Thin layers of noise stick to most sounds throughout the album, giving them an inescapable softness. Contrary to the noisiness of techno producers like Blawan or Silent Servant, Segue’s noise serves a more delicate function. It forms a snowy, crystalline texture that takes the forefront in the sonic space, while resonant melodies, stripped of their higher frequencies, chime repeatedly in the background. “Honest and Truly,” like most of the tracks on the album, meanders along at it’s own steady pace. There really isn’t a sense of “destination” in any of these songs. Rather, it seems to be about the pleasure derived from taking one’s time.

“Parchment” is the first break in this pace, as it has a slightly more accelerated, rigid framework. A smooth baseline gradually fades in to fill out the space, as dub chords begin to enter around the stereo field with a subtle distorted crunchiness. Hi-hats hop on board to raise the energy level of the track. Sounds begin to spiral out of control on the perimeter of the listener’s perception, before the track is cut in half by a frigid, fluttering chord stab – only immediately shift back into a thick dubbed-out groove. “Snow Dub” was the track chosen by the label for pre-release YouTube promotion, and for good reason. It is easily the standout track from the album: a cold, rocky dub groove that slowly marches on with a sense of dignity, kept warm by a thick battle-chant baseline. Some of the percussion appears to be built out of more organic, potentially field record-ing based samples. These fill out the track nicely, and give it sort of a “wet” sound that readily calls to mind images of melting snow.

The next track, “Pushing Forward,” takes on a slightly more youthful feel, with a toy-like chime taking the role normally filled by a hi-hat. Meanwhile, dubby murmurs tumble around with each other bellow. In a word, I would describe this tracks as “innocent,” or “playful.” The next track, “La Rue” begins with a not-entirely-pleasant collection of sustained noises (most likely field recorded) before it is gradually overtaken by a contrastingly pleasant groove, one that calls to mind fresh air and abundant sunlight, in a very Boards-of-Canada-esque reverie. “Canyon” pairs gliding dub chords with a stoic kick drum, against a field recording backdrop. Like most songs in the album, it slowly moves along, seeming to enjoy it’s own peaceful themes.

“Ocean” has a striking contrast to the rest of the album, as it begins with resonating, questionably organic strings whimpering over each other, continually building. And then comes the familiar kick-and-bass percussion present throughout the album comes in, topped by another hi-hat. The track gradually transforms into a pumping cacophony, a mix of a thousand emotions all trapped up in a small container and being rapidly shaken, and then finally spilled out onto the floor. Finally, “Vapor Trails” returns us to the calmer, ambient feel of the album’s earlier tracks. Textured noise and sporadic, reverbed noises dance about over a slow heartbeat of a groove.

Overall, I feel that this album is great for tossing on the stereo now and then when relaxing. Since I’m writing for a techno journal, I should specify that this is not club-oriented techno, but a more still-life oriented collection. “Pacifica” is definitely not hyper-analytical, hyper-experimental, or really hyper-anything. Best enjoyed hedonistically with some placid weather and a thoughtful novel.