Andy Seaver is ready for his close-up. The unassuming Seattle electronic-music artist, who records and performs as ndCv, has established a rep as a producer's producer, but he's maintained a low profile compared to some of this city's other laptop musicians. Seaver's innate modesty and distaste for heavy self-promo notwithstanding, 2007 looks likely to be his breakout year.
After scoring the final scene for Robinson Devor's lauded Police Beat (scripted by Stranger staffer Charles Mudede), Seaver focused his energies on recording Foundation, a 10-track album that deserves to find a home with a quality label. Foundation is beautiful and intelligently wrought, as Seaver forges impressionistic textures and delicate, wistful melodies, attaining an air of tranquility without descending into sappiness (a common pitfall with this type of electronic music). Its understatedly melancholy aura should appeal to fans of Boards of Canada and Morr Music artists like B. Fleischmann and Opiate.
Seaver says his studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut were crucial to his musical development. "It wasn't like what I suppose a traditional music education would be. There was a focus on improvisation, experimentation, and creativity rather than structure and strict theory. And I had amazing professors: theory and history classes with experimental jazz genius Anthony Braxton, avant-gardists Alvin Lucier and Ron Kuivila, and inspired jazz-improvisation training from Jay Hoggard. I studied piano with Fred Simmons. Sometimes I think, 'If only I had actually been a decent musician back then, just think of what I could have learned!' I practiced a lot though..."
Seaver may have enjoyed a high-powered education, but his current recording methods don't smack of academic stodginess. Rather, he records mundane, mostly household items like a Northwestern Matthew Herbert, and then molds them into gorgeous tracks that defy you to recognize their sources. "Percussive noises like me kicking my furnace, hitting everything in my house with a drumstick and then [with] my hand, an old typewriter, the vacuum, a teakettle, the coffee grinder, walking through the leaves," Seaver notes. "I enjoy choosing an object and then trying to 'provoke' as many sounds as possible from it—a bike, for instance, or the fireplace."
He also deploys more traditional instruments such as Rhodes, his girlfriend's voice, and acoustic guitar (as a drum). Seaver summarizes his creative process thus: "Pick some samples. Create an instrument out of them. Come up with a melody or harmonic progression. Beat. Arrange. Fix.
"I hope to create combinations of sounds that are in some sense familiar (harmony), but in other ways new (texture, beat structure). I attempt to ride the line between groove-able 'dance' music and something that keeps you listening and guessing."
Judging from Foundation, Seaver sounds poised to ascend to marquee status.