The most enjoyable release on Full Time Hobby for some time, “Tourist/Sleeper” is a mesmeric mini-album that takes the ‘folktronica’ stick generally used to beat vaguely twee bedroom artists with, smooths it down with some digital sandpaper, then hurls it lovingly into the listener’s ears like a javelin (or, indeed, like Javelin). Seams (not to be confused with the Bitch Magnet/Superchunk offshoot Seam (or a million other bands with similar names)) is known to his family as James Welch, a “Berlin by way of Hampshire” producer whose day job is working for Soundcloud’s community team – little surprise then that the entire record is streaming there for your delectation.
While it has to be said that Seams doesn’t so much mine fellow South of England-ers Gold Panda and Four Tet for ideas as strip them clean like an Apple-sponsored militia rampaging through Congolese mineral deposits, he does manage to make their sound somehow more accessible. The clipped samples and reverberating percussion on “Hung Markets” are perfectly judged, while “The Glow” is as clean, warm and absorbing as a freshly laundered dresing gown. Elsewhere, the beat on “Nachtmusik” kicks in just before things get too tinkly, and the slowed-down vocal samples of “Carnival” evoke the feeling of being pumped full of dissociatives then shoved into a large crowd.
“Punch”, meanwhile, takes things firmly in the direction of the dancefloor at a tempo which even those he mimics would shy away from. Critics will argue that Seams shys away from anything too dangerous or experimental, but while he does follow a familiar path you get the sense he’s spotting a few things others missed along the same route. While Derwin “Gold Panda” Lau embarks on a headline tour of the USA and Kieran “Four Tet” Hebden hears his music being blasted out of multiple Olympic venues, James Welch’s smoother, easier sound could prove capable of surpassing both their successes.