Album Reviews

Sega Bodega – Dennis

(ambient tweets) UK release date: 26 April 2024

This genre-bending producer is on fire when playing to his strengths, making for stratospheric highs

Sega Bodega - Dennis One of the issues surrounding the term ‘hyperpop’, originally conceived as a surreal collision between pop’s base enjoyability and experimental electronics, is that pop itself has got weirder in the past 10 years. Camila Cabello is sounding like she’s had too much caffeine over El Guincho production, there’s a proggy synth solo on a Dua Lipa single, and country’s boot-stomping and guitar-twanging has become something of a counter-revolution within the mainstream. So where does a producer/singer like Paris-based Sega Bodega fit in?

Dennis’ opening track Adulter8 is suitably genre-bending, as reggaeton beats meet a rapid synth lead that could have come straight from a video game. The mid-section brings more sonic ingredients, a 303 ostinato burbling along to a steadier beat, while Sega’s digitised vocals bridge the gap with their sustained, plaintive quality (“dilute, adulterate / diminish, reduce me to nothing / seduce, seduce / seduce”). The vocals on this record are notable for their extreme tempos: sometimes the words are hypnotically laconic, other times delivered at such breakneck speed as to be unintelligible, particularly on Kepko.

Deer Teeth is a highlight of the album, opting for a more conventional song structure as the instrumentation gradually builds. The percussion starts as a mixture of white noise transients and more naturalistic clicks, the tempo quickening to double-time and the synth filtering up as the “messing with your hair” refrain comes round the third time. Tremolo-ridden string hits characterise the breakdown, and by the ‘drop’ we have punchier bass hits and vocal harmonies, then the synth’s sound morphs from a garish buzz to pizzicato as the final section approaches.

Sega’s production is consistently impressive, whether it’s the seasick bass on Elk Skin’s glitchy hook, True’s baroque chord sequence or the pumping trancey arrangement of Dirt. He is a better producer than a songwriter however, and some of the less musically eventful tracks test the patience – Set Me Free, I’m An Animal prioritises syllables over sense (“sitting by the river for its last flow / sit there, tell me what you think that I know”), while the dreary, plodding effect of Tears & Sighs is unwelcome.

Coma Salv works brilliantly as a palette cleanser, with twinkly pads slowly drowned out by more ambient chords in a modulating sequence, making for a minimal, enveloping piece of electronica and a poignant end to a record on which the highs are stratospheric.

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