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Review: Bayonne – Primitives

Bayonne - Cone Magazine

Bayonne’s rich tapestry of musical assortments that makes up Primitives is a refreshing listen.

Attention to detail rarely goes amiss yet can often be overlooked in our perpetual haste to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thankfully this is not the case with Bayonne’s rich and intricate compositions that prove just how much the smallest of parts matter in forming the bigger picture or, in this case, the monumental, majestic sound. It is with each minimal melodic loop of instrumentals and vocals that Roger Sellers, the artist behind the Bayonne moniker, creates such captivating waves of electronica on his debut album Primitives.

There’s a resonant drum sound that pulsates through the tracks, influenced by Sellers’ aspiration “to be Phil Collins for so many years as a child” and inspired by the very beginnings of his musical journey when at two years old he “would get paint cans and bang on them” whilst watching Eric Clapton Unplugged. This inherent compulsion to create music, that’s been with the Austin-born musician from such an early age, comes across on Primitives in the entirely organic feel to the compositions. The first murmuring instrumental melodies of ‘Intro’ gradually flourish and amass intertwining with Sellers’ ethereal vocals. Collectively each looped element forms this beautiful and dense sonic tapestry that continues to be woven throughout the album.

bayonne - Primitives on Cone Magazine

Within his expansive electro-pop compositions Sellers creates a great capacity for escapism. There are certain rippling sounds reminiscent of bubbling bodies of water, melodic sequences that evoke scenes of vibrant fauna, and other moments that offer a celestial cosmos of flickering notes. Whilst the individual looped phrases were spontaneously born out of Sellers “just fucking around, hooking up keyboards and experimenting” over six years, improvising both live and at home, the assembling of all these parts took a more methodical approach. Yet this careful precision in no way detracts from the instantly enthralling, harmonious labyrinth of songs. In fact, it is this finely-tuned balance between impulsive compositions and precise arrangements that makes Primitives so captivating.

Having found that formal study sapped the life out of his music, Sellers turned to a self-taught approach and this personal process of creating is tangible in the emotive depth that these tracks carry. On ‘Waves’, seemingly simple piano refrains repeat and build up striking, undulating melodies that at once form vast soundscapes whilst also offering an enveloping warmth. It is this earnest feeling behind Primitives that conveys a sense of complete musical outpouring; from the soothing and graceful looped piano and synths that lead us into ‘Lates’, to the shimmering pop of ‘Appeals’ we are carried through each moment of “emotive expression” that Sellers’ music presents.

With tours alongside the likes of Caribou and Battles already under his belt and ‘Appeals’ featured on the Fifa 17 Soundtrack, the release of Primitives greatly furthers Bayonne’s recognition and reputation as a purveyor of this uniquely immersive and textured sound. Out now on City Slang, this is an album that yields new, subtle nuances with each listen and sets Sellers apart as a compelling electronic artist.

Words by Kezia Cochrane


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