Select Level

by Wax Thematique

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about

SELECT LEVEL
Wax Themátique (WXTM-005)

Heads may know Select Level mastermind Andy Sells best as the limber drummer for soulful fusion explorers Afrocop or as the bassist for noisy prog-rockers Nosretep... or maybe even for his stint in electronic brainiacs FCS North, who existed from 1997 to 2007. This talented Seattle multi-instrumentalist has established that he can get weird and far out in various situations. Select Level finds Sells veering off on a tangent into the realm of sleek music geared for dancing and romancing.
The odd thing about Select Level's self-titled debut album, though, is that it was inspired by wild dreams about homelessness, authoritarian governments, social media's problematic algorithms, and other harbingers of a dystopian future. The eight songs here act as an antidote for said dark times—which are encroaching even as you read these words. Sells' love of disco, post-punk, funk (in its smooth and rugged forms), electro, and Afrobeat all surface on Select Level. “I like just about anything with a hooky bass line and some dirty drums,” he says, and you can tell.
The LP breezes in with “The Race,” a slice of tropical coolness that sounds like the Sea And Cake in languid-funk mode—while wearing Miami Vice pastels. Sells sings with a mellow breathiness that suggests that no matter what obstacles we encounter, everything's going to resolve gracefully. “Sham” is clipped, brisk disco-funk that takes Roxy Music's “Love Is The Drug” to the cabana. The track's become a live highlight—especially for that one couple I saw groping each other to it at the 2017 Capitol Hill Block Party. They're likely not the only listeners who'll liberate their libidos to this song. In a similar vein is “Her Night Door,” a chunky, sophisticated club heater that sashays like Chic while flexing flagrant Billy Preston-esque/Zapp-like keyboard embellishments.
“Valentine” launches with shakers that recall the beginning of Area Code 615's “Stone Fox Chase” before it shifts into lush, laggard disco-funk that splits the difference between Bohannon and early LCD Soundsystem. The elegant chaos that engulfs the track's last minute reminds us that debauchery sometimes has explosive consequences. Another surefire dance-floor burner, “Gov” glides into your pleasure center through an incredibly supple and buoyant bass line and Noel Brass' stardust-drone keyboards. Joel Cuplin's distorted guitar solo adds just enough dissonance to spark some freaky friction. The pulsating, polyrhythmic hedonism of “Anakanafauna” climaxes Select Level with a hint of Afrobeat undulation in its rhythm, conjuring that serpentine mojo familiar from Talking Heads' “I Zimbra.”
Sells cites the album's themes as “corporate creep, algorithmic enslavement, commodification of human life, energetic ties between humans, pre-cognitive dream states, multi-layered reality, paranoia, and hopeful love in a time of division.” That's heavy stuff, but it's counterbalanced by music gleaming with suavity and gusto. He's created a work of sweet body/mind satisfaction that refuses to surrender to whatever awfulness reality throws at us. It's a luxurious-sounding luxury that you shouldn't take lightly.

-Dave Segal, Seattle, March 2019

credits

released June 21, 2019

Written, Produced, Recorded and arranged by Andy Sells.
Vocal recording on NVR, Valentine, Sham, The Race, Gov, Her Night Door by Allison Tulloss at Nice Morph Studios.
Music performed by Andy Sells, Joel Cuplin, Noel Brass Jr., Jayson Powell.
Mixed by SCNTFC and Andy Sells.
Mastered for vinyl and digital by Mell Dettmer.
Art & Design by Travis Ritter.

2019 Wax Thematique

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Track Name: The Race
Tomorrow never happened
Wrote it off the list. It's all that I can take
There's always someone to take your place
Why would I worry about it in a race

There's a fire on the water. Fire (x3)

Your space. Your place where things are fair
Rise to forget at dawn, remember ourselves again
Travel, travel to the land
Prepare and relax what's coming in waves

There's a fire on the water. Fire (x3)

A chance to collect all of the silence that you left down
A chance to correct it
On these islands that you left
On these islands
Track Name: Sham
Here he's walking in a silent way
She's taking in the cellophane
They're looking like fish across the room
We're happy now
Hope this never ends

He's lacking any point of view
She's watching all of her next moves
They're stopping, watching the time roll through
Wish I was so, wish I was so fit

Shamrock. Shamrock so well..
Track Name: Valentine
Fade. It's what you want to do
It's been so long. Should have gone a long time ago
Always you're around
We could start again, now what's the point?
Would you run on the same path
Only to get at the past now

It's the sound. Sound of today
Where the wild run away
In a way it's a valentine oh yeah
Over again, over again at the same pace

Save beautiful land
Loops of thought in action caught in the rhythm
Outside there's a warning
Just a faint echo. I'm out of bounds
Still caught up tumbling inwards
If infinity is all it takes I'm getting tired now

It's the sound. Sound of today
Where the wild run away
In a way it's valentine, Oh yeah
Over again, over again at the same pace

You're always under
You're always under. Undercover
And they're watching, and they're waiting you go under
Always under. Always under undercover. And they're waiting
You go under
The key is central to understanding over under
They are watching. They are waiting you go under
Track Name: NVR
I will try you out. You out
You won't drag me down. Not now
When you know my way, my name

I give it away
I give it away

You will never see it coming, it's coming
You will never believe it, it's only a function
You will never see it coming, It's coming
Could you ever receive it decoded, uncovered

I will tune it out. I can
Still I have a choice. Turn down
Will I go away, can't say

I give it away

You will never see it coming, it's coming
You will never believe it, it's only a function
You will never see it coming, it's coming
Could you ever receive it decoded, uncovered
Track Name: Her Night Door
Sign on the dotted line and throw away what you think you know it is
Slide your life away and it's never so good that you can't escape the pain. Yeah yeah
Ride, you can ride it out, take another turn down the same old road again
Save, you can save and hold, close your eyes look down, keep your gaze set steady forward
Why, when you know the chance of getting on is slim to none would you spend the time?
I wanna cut the cord so I never have to say I know again

She's knocking in my door, knocking in my door...

Lines, let's say you can wait. Spend all the time in the world just looking backward
Force, you can try to go but your feet stay put guess something else is holding.. you down
Try.. you could try it again, you could try it again, you could try to clear the last mess
Can there even be enough angles in play this time to keep you satisfied?

She's knocking in my door, knocking in my door...

(keyboard battle)

We can stop. We can stop
We can, we can, we can stop
We can stop. We can stop
We can, we can, we can stop
Track Name: Gov
We'll start a government. Co-owned
Throw down in our own way
It's ok, slow town is your town
It's alright, you've seen it on your screen

Holographic people. They all know what's inside of you
It's ok, don't worry. You're alright
They're doing it all the time

Tension over, overload my senses, let's just stay at home
Senses over, overload with tension, let's just stay at home

It's a development. Progress. Creeping in
Can you find the door?
Innerspace available. Trademark
Leave the seeds alone

Tension over, overload my senses, let's just stay at home
Senses over, overload with tension, let's just stay at home

(instrumental)

Promoter here because of us
Developer here because of us
Investor here because of us
Banker here because of us
Policeman here because of us
Politician here because of us
Position here because of us
Shadow here because of us
You will stay right here because of us
USA right here because of us
Us
Track Name: Connected
Where. Where did you go?
Where it was so surrounded
Light. Light it wasn't there
I couldn't get around it
If I would have known
Slowly time unfolds getting older

The light is here, we'll drop your fear, lift up the tempo
The light is here, we'll drop your fear, lift up the tempo

If. If I stay connected will it burn my circuits out?
If. If I stay selected will it burn me out?
No. I say no

The light is here, we'll drop your fear lift up the tempo
The light is here, we'll drop all fear lift up the tempo

I wouldn't agree. Light never stopped
Time wasn't around. I couldn't know
Track Name: Anakanafauna
Live. Stay awake
Life. Stay awake

Sly roaring face
Tied. Won't be late

Shine. Stay awake
Try and make it take

Fight through the gate
I won't be late

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