huge thanks to Jamie Ludwig and the entire Alarm staff for the support!
sBACH: Spencer Seim Plays it Solo
After mastering the 8-bit rhythms of NES games with The Advantage and complimenting Zach Hill with quirky yet adept guitar riffs in Hella, Spencer Seim appears to exemplify a satisfied musician. On his latest solo project, sBACH (Suicide Squeeze), Seim once again delves into the far corners of sonic exploration. Despite no particular fondness for Star Trek, Seim describes sBACH as what, “Vulcan classical music, sounds like [to] me.” And although that description may conjure up unwanted images of a Shatner/Nimoy duet, the sound is something equally strange and out of this world.
With sBACH, Seim seems to give a nod to his past projects. As far a melodic instrumentation goes, sBACH and Hella are essentially the same: spatial fuzzed out guitar melodies layered over eccentric math-rock inspired phrasing. The blocked-in, 8-bit rhythms of The Advantage have given way to more grandiose syncopation and unknown meter signatures, which better demonstrate Seim’s instinctive knack behind the sticks. “I would say that my drumming changes song to song for any band I am in,” says Seim, “I like beats that are exciting and new to me, but also enjoy the sound of simplicity and the contrast between the two.”
The end product of Seim’s Hella-Advantage hybrid is captured on sBACH’s self-titled August debut; a record that sounds like Mario on a sugar high, surrounded by Pixie Stix. Wrought with consistent tones, cartoonish alacrity, and no lyrical content, sBACH could easily be substituted with an old Nintendo score or at the very least, a soundtrack to a manic episode. But perhaps the psychosis radiating from the record has some correlation with the album’s unique inspiration. “On song 4 [of sBACH] I kept having this recurring dream of this girl playing this awesome guitar part and every morning I’d wake up and try to play it,” Seim explains. Track 4’s ominous guitar riff remains proof that one day he remembered how to play it.
But with the excitement of the new release, especially Seim’s first solo record, on which he played every instrument and wrote every song—one daunting question remains: will sBACH ever evolve from a side-project to a main state of Seim’s career? Or will it be just another project in an already accomplished musician’s discography? Seim, confidently replies, “It is something I will continue all of my life. sBACH is not a one off record thing.”