Regardless of the style he is working in, Sam Prekop’s music is always imbued with a sense of wide-eyed discovery and exploration. As the singer and guitarist of The Sea and Cake, Prekop has incorporated elements of traditional styles from around the world, expanding the public perception of what it means to be the leader of a pop band. In recent years, he has also established himself as a modular synthesist, building his instrument meticulously to find the perfect combination of oscillators, sequencers, limiters and filters to create a system that allows him to create sounds that are surprising and inviting. His new album The Republic is his latest synthesizer work, following 2010’s Old Punch Card, and showcases Prekop’s talent for creating expressive music through mechanical patterns, repetitions, and chance. Prekop’s innate gifts of melodic turns of phrase that have made him a revered songwriter are transferred into new forms in his synthesizer work, aided by the unpredictable melodic capabilities of analog sequencers, and The Republic is an exciting new chapter in his development as an accomplished synthesist.
The first half of The Republic consists of songs that were originally created as a score for a video installation of the same name by David Hartt, which was shown at the David Nolan Gallery in New York. These pieces strike an impressive balance between control and spontaneity, seamlessly transitioning from abstraction and discord into passages of blissful harmonic consonance. The second half of the record consists of some of Prekop’s most warm and inviting synth work yet, built using ideas that worked better on their own as opposed to accompanying the installation. These songs have a sense of forward motion that is often missing in many recordings by modern modular synthesists, which Prekop attributes to his incorporation of the instrument into his writing process for The Sea and Cake’s acclaimed 2012 album Runner. The Republic is an entrancing album that moves Prekop’s synthesizer compositions further into the realm of the accessible without abandoning the experimental legacy of the instrument.
The Republic was recorded in Prekop’s home studio in Chicago during the early months of 2014. Although he has primarily only performed synthesizer sets in Chicago, in part due to the extensive process of setting up and dismantling the instrument, he plans to perform works incorporating elements of The Republic throughout the US in 2015.