Jan Linton + Matthew Seligman: Sendai 仙台 Special Extended Edition 2020 CD 
- Sendai #1 Earth
- Sendai #2 Radio
- Sandai #3 Message
- Sendai #4: Plant/Metal
- Sendai Plant/Metal Extended
- Radio [Matthew’s remix]
Back in April when we sadly lost Matthew Seligman; a bass player who anyone reading these words is likely to have on their racks, Jan Linton left a comment on the post saying that he was planning on re-issuing the “Sendai” EP that he and Seligman had recorded as a pair in 2012. Matthew’s adopted city had been devastated by the Fukushima tsunami in 2011 and the duo had recorded the EP as a fundraiser for the city’s rebuilding charity. Now it’s back [after selling out] in an extended form to commemorate the talents of Seligman; whose family receives his share of all sales. I can truly state that anyone pining for the distinct pastoral/abstract ambient vibe that was coursing through “Another Green World” would find much to love here.
“Sendai #1 Earth” began with a subtle flourish as a hum began to coalesce in the soundscape. Subtly throbbing until the distant echo of a driving trance rhythm stepped forward while washes of evanescent wind chimes and virtual cymbals echoed the tidal flow surrounding the city of Sendai. While Jan Linton was manning the synths, guitars and sequencers, the fretless bass of Seligman was at the forefront of the music’s melodic development here with deep contours of bass taking me back to the bass undertow vibe of Roxy Music’s “Manifesto.” Listen below:
The second track, “Sendai #2 Radio” was a brief, quasi industrial soundscape with the sound of choral wash patches drifting like fog over the landscape built here. Long echoes of distant sound suggesting construction filtered into the foreground from the horizon. Bass was an architectural hum as the sound of machinery eventually formed the track’s abrupt coda.
The third track found “Sendai #3 Message” with more prominent swells of bass and air jets of crashing wave synths. There were also shimmering tidepools of synth sound that again called out to the power of the sea. The wind chimes were echoed with metallic clanks of synths that momentarily broke the spell of placidity.
The final original track, “Sendai #4 Plant/Metal,” was home to the most traditional guitar sounds that this EP had thus far. The sequenced synths provided a melody shot through with hope and optimism. Then Linton’s e-bow guitar built up swells of melody over the loops. With a slightly dissonant, noisier guitar tone doubling into the mix. Did I mention” Another Green World?” This track was taking me back to side one of “Evening Star” with its cumulative beauty built up in subtle layers.
The original EP ended there, but this edition had two more bonus tracks. The extended 2020 mix of “Sendai #4 Plant/Metal”brought the bass guitar of Seligman to the spotlight along with the synth drones of the song for a more contemplative view of the beauty on display there. Sequenced synths raining down like droplets of water ushered in the bass at midpoint along with a more isolated e-bow from Linton at the periphery of the song. The synthetic birdsong in the coda was delightful. This mix was a radical new vision of what was music of high subtlety. Fans of Bill Nelson’s ambient side from the 80s would really enjoy this cut. Finally, “Radio (Matthew’s remix)” was a mix of the second track that took the vibe closer to that of traffic [or cicada] sounds with the washes of synth noise. The random jolts of viscous bass bubbling up through the mix here served only to highlight the insect tension that never resolved.
The various flavors of ambient sound here stuck close to the all-important Fripp/Eno/Nelson/Sylvian axis of abstract/ambient sound with Seligman playing a role close to Percy Jones while Linton exercised his freedom from guitar clichés that I’ve come to expect from him to create the atmospheres. The 2012 Edition is long gone, but there are 50 CDs of the new expanded version in Linton’s Bandcamp store, so if this is in your wheelhouse, by all means act soon. $15 nets you a CD with a six page booklet of Matthew Seligman’s liner notes which could not fit in the first edition. Hit that button below.
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