Sei Still release their new album ‘El Refugio’, stream it now
Second album from the Mexico City-born, Berlin-based group is out now on vinyl, CD, tape and all streaming platforms
Mexican group Sei Still are today releasing their new ‘El Refugio’ LP into the world! Following their 2020 self-titled debut, the new album marks a number of changes for the band. Not only have they upped sticks and moved from Mexico City to Berlin, but their sound has undergone a process of evolution too. Where the debut LP was an exercise in mesmerising Krautrock channeling the likes of Neu! and Can,‘El Refugio’ keeps hold of that motorik pulse but trades the debut’s more expansive and hypnotic tendencies for a collection of dark, wiry post-punk vignettes. You can pick up the vinyl here and stream the album in full below.
Talking about the ‘El Refugio’ LP – which was preceded by the band’s first ever European tour-dates last month – Sei Still said: “The biggest influence on this record was the fact that our personal lives had a radical change and we felt the need to do something different, to dig deeper into the possibilities of what the band was about. We never wanted to make the same record twice.” The move from Mexico to Germany was enough of an upheaval in and of itself, but considering they did so mere weeks before entering lockdown gives one possible explanation as to why the new material feels more emotive and visceral than before.
Expressionist rather than psychedelic in intent, they say that the songs on ‘El Refugio’ “allude to childhood, dreams, desire, loneliness, paranoia and hope. A longing for a different reality that breaks the monotony of daily life. It's more about sensations than something you can describe in words. I think what makes music great is that it has to be experienced so we try to part from a specific mood or emotion, which is something very abstract that people can interpret in their own way.”
The music of ‘El Refugio’ is still driven by the taut, propulsive rhythm sections of their earlier work – see the driving motorik post-punk of ‘Extrarradio’, ‘Me Persigue’ and ‘Exilio’, or the death disco grooves of ‘Solsticio’ – but the surrounding instrumentation owes far more to 70s punk and new wave than any kosmische travellers. Sei Still have always taken inspiration from Spanish New Wave but the sounds of the post-industrial Europe they now call home – a musical aesthetic that was arguably best symbolised by the Factory Records school of modernist post-punk – has been brought right to the fore. ‘El Refugio’ is a more skeletal effort than its predecessor but packs a greater punch precisely because of that; the songs are shorter and unapologetically to-the-point, brimming with a tension and anguish that makes ‘El Refugio’ a deeply affecting listen.
Whilst melodic bass lines propel the music in a perpetual forward motion, guitars flicker from angular and razor-sharp to shimmering and forlorn, peppered by the ambient whirr of synths that oscillate subtly in the background throughout. All the while Lucas Martín’s monotonous sprechgesang vocal (delivered in Spanish throughout) give the tracks a foreboding and ghostly allure. The band still have their hypnotic moments, mind. On slow-burning moments like ‘Soldados Caidos’ and ‘El Peso De La Piel’, Sei Still trade in a desolate, mournful goth-rock and the ethereal title-track ‘El Refugio’ is a shoegaze-indebted comedown that brings the album to a hauntingly beautiful close.