- Cédric Stevens – “Syncopated Elevator Legacy” 2XLP – Discrepant Records
To start off, let me just relate that even if you think you don’t know who Cédric Stevens is, you might have heard his work through the prism of any of the following bands/collectives/ensembles: Anxious, B.W.P. Experiments, Cyberpsychose, Deep Space Nine, Disappointed Wannabees, Drifting Bears Collective, Encephaloïd Disturbance, Hemisphear, Paresys, Phlegm, South Of No North, Subexplored, Subjective.
HOLY SHIT! I guess that’s the kind of dust you kick up when you’ve been around for decades, but there seems to be more to Stevens’ oeuvre than simple longevity, chiefly that his work as Syncopated Elevators Legacy (why that band name wasn’t used for this release I don’t know; kind of confusing), archived here, anticipates a lot of the ambient synth drones most of us have been loving to hate over the last year or three, tossing in free-jazz electronic elements and a fair amount of glitchery, too.
And there’s always that question, first posed to me by my brother-in-law, and quite reasonably so: Does anticipation of things to come necessarily connote superiority? To this I issue a firm NO. However, it most-certainly DOES tip the scales if an artist from a bygone era, particularly if burdened by little incentive or encouragement, cracks the codes of musical evolution long before those in the third- or fourth-tier underground zones do in modern times. Stevens has most definitely achieved this, and for that I automatically allot more ear-doubloons to The Syncopated Elevators Legacy than I would to, say, the new Emeralds LP (not that there’s anything wrong with it).
Furthermore, that its contents ring as true now as they did when they were birthed also is an accomplishment in itself. These compositions, full of beforehand bits of Secret Mommy, Vowels (specifically in the abstract percussion of Side B), Rafael Toral (though in Toral’s case he’s been active just as long), CVLTS and too many other spores to go into, flourish in a manner so striking it’s pretty obvious the SEL recordings were produced in a vacuum, an airtight space wherein the outside world could find little purchase. That’s often how masterpieces come about, and while I’m not ready to label this 2XLP as such just yet, it passes the test of time 10 times over, and the remixers populating the second 180-gram LP encompass a who’s who-type deal for sure: Fennesz, out-sound postermammal, along with Wire darlings My Cat Is An Alien, perpetual TMT leading man Burning Star Core, Motion Sickness Of Time Travel and Leyland Kirby.
The remixes will serve as ample reason to snort this double-LP up for a lot of people, and that’s always a good situation for everyone, but I implore you to focus on Stevens’ originals. As well as the remixers do in their retellings of the Syncopated Elevators Legacy story, nothing’s going to surpass the definitive electronic artifact by folding over its sound a few times like arms of dough and adding tinsel and melted butter here and there. Go original, then give the hotter hands a chance once you’ve absorbed what SELhas to offer. It’s only fair.