1UP, the new record by Western North Carolina and Greensboro-based Seers is an unabashedly weird, inspired, fantastical, bizarre and transcendent collection. The nine-track album is just part of a larger project — released by the collective Nomad Staff — including short films and music videos. The combination is a slide down a rabbit hole of wonder and absurdity soundtracked by rave-ups of suave beats, man-child fantasies and philosophical musings. All at the same time.
The album opens with the short, quippy “Two Birds, One Stoner.” It’s breezy, simple and a crash course in Seers’ particular rap delivery style. At once sleepy and supple, his words tumble and bounce — a gymnastic floor routine backflipping where a lesser talent would stumble. (In fact, if there is a stumble on this album at all, it’s Seers’ apparent attitude toward women, which comes off as much less evolved than his outlook on environment, overarching acceptance and artistic vision.)
The music on “Current” smartly matches Seers’ lyrical flow with a down-tempo amble and handclaps in lieu of drums. But the complexity amps up with “Nonsense For Your Conscience.” Here, the melody — way in the background — is almost retiring. A hazy sigh bolstered by fuzzy percussion and a recurring descending scale. But that atmospheric canvas is the perfect stage for Seers’ verses, which build in intensity until the relaxed chorus. But the rap — “We got egos and superegos but don’t forget your ID kid, no one knows who you are yet. Sigmund Frued and his b**ch talking mental compartments, subconscious department the darkest and hardest to harness, like playing piano with only guitar picks,” — as he spits at one point, is an organic barrage that somehow lands on its feet.
“Sheep,” wavering from cool downbeat to atonal experimentation, nonchalantly flips words to reveal flashes of clarity: “Diplomat in the form of a poem, a song writer. I’m a song rider, my favorite form of transportation,” Seers chants. “Pretty Penny” is a grittier “Mr. Wendel” — a conversation with a homeless man that surprises with its insight. “Pupil’s Rant” is, like most of the tracks, not safe for the most sensitive listeners. But beyond a few four- (and five-, and one 13-) letter words, the track is a gem. Shot through with energy and picking it steam as it goes, the rap unfolds over a crisp violin loop and a few well-appointed moments of percussion.
The title track, which opens to a floaty, Disney-esque soundscape is a fever dream of video games and yogic acumen. The Mario Brothers feature heavily in that track and return in final song, “Bob Ross,” like Jungian archetypes. In fact, much of the brilliance of Seers’ writing his his ability to encapsulate magic within the plastic of pop culture. The 1UP project, brilliant in its simplicity and off-kilter discernment, is welcome glimpse of the magic behind the mundane.