The result of a sizeable change in identity, Roger Sellers’ – now better known as Bayonne – debut LP Primitives compiles 6 years’ worth of material to form an electronic and psychedelic trip into an expansive universe of dizzying, colourful melodies and endless loops of swirling, panoramic sound.
This vast pallet of synthesisers and technology was however not always the identifiable sound of Sellers music; in fact, it is far from it. Search Sellers’ name into Google and, buried under the new persona of Bayonne, you’ll find a musician whose roots are firmly embedded in American acoustic folk. “It was just the influence of what I was listening to at the time” Sellers explains, detailing his journey from the gentle banjo pieces he once wrote to the exciting, vibrant sound of his present work, fuelled by playful experimentation and modern electronics. Sellers’ cites his purchase of a looping device as the moment that ‘changed everything’ and this statement is evident across the excellent Primitives. Meticulously detailed frameworks of arpeggiated chord patterns intertwine and overlap, forming as one to create an otherworldly maze of sound that you can lose yourself within again and again.
Cinematic synthesisers immediately bathe the album in an ethereal and atmospheric light on Intro. Their soothing warmth, in unison with humming organ tones that rise slowly from a seemingly boundless ocean of textures provoke a vivid image of a new life coming into existence, with recordings of flowing water and chirping birds only helping to further this immersive creation. Barely two minutes into Primitives and already you’ll find it flourishing with more layers of intricate sound than you’re likely to hear across the entire run-length of most records. Each individual part acts like a wildflower in wide-stretching fields, ranging drastically in stature and tone yet despite their diversity together to stand as one.
Despite defining his own unique style, Sellers’ music can at times borrow a little too heavily from the work of other psychedelic artists, with Animal Collective’s influence noticeable across a number of songs on the track-list. Whether this is because Animal Collective are regarded by many critics as champions of modern electronic and experimental psych, meaning artists working with similar elements are going to face inevitable comparisons is debatable, but the tribal drum patterns and delivery of the warped vocals on Appeals wouldn’t sound at all out of place on Centipede HZ for example.
Primitive’s has an infinite feel to it, whether it’s the relentless invention and creativity or the seamlessness with which one song dissolves into another with skilful composition. Through this infinity of mind-altering sound however, births a desire for defined endings and a closure where Sellers can break from the repetition of layering spinning melody upon spinning melody and present something a little less predictable. This isn’t to say that Sellers’ formula is one that doesn’t provide some breath-taking moments across the LP, it is simply to say that by sticking so closely to the pattern of endlessly looping, the creative process ends up veering a little towards becoming monotonous, losing somewhat the spark that set the album off with exciting ignition.
Despite this, Seller’s debut release is the work of an artists with undeniable ambition. The soundscapes found across Primitives are bold and executed with assured confidence, with each track presenting a 360-degree whirlwind of bubbling psychedelia. Although fading somewhat, this album provides a fascinating listen and highlights, with a little fine tuning, the potential Bayonne poses to become one of the most exciting new projects within its genre.
Words by Joe Austin