Long Way From Plato’s Republic
Sam Prekop is a musician from Chicago, probably best known for being the lead singer and guitarist of the band The Sea and Cake. He began his solo career in 1999 where he started experimenting more with synthesizers. His latest album, The Republic, earned its title from artist David Hartt’s photo, video and sculpture installation of the same name, which Prekop provided the score for. The video centers around uncompleted city plans for Athens, Greece and Detroit, Michigan made by a Greek planner in response to urbanization in the Athens area. Hartt’s project focuses on many different themes, which are also reflected in the music Prekop created for the score – urban themes including: violence, modernity, and loneliness. The result is a striking and creative body of work which is intensified by the music being used.
The album is split into two parts: one consisting of songs scored for Hartt’s project and the other being Prekop’s own work. “Weather Vane” is the track that kicks off the second part of the album. While the first nine tracks (“The Republic” 1-9) were calm and soothing, this song will definitely make you wake up and pay attention. The song is upbeat and optimistic, using the synthesizers in a way that wasn’t fully explored on the first part of the album. The first half of the album feels like Prekop is holding back and the second act is where he breaks free.
Prekop’s experience as a songwriter and guitarist is showcased even on these electronic songs. He makes unique melodies on The Republic even though there are no words or vocals. “Invisible,” like the other second half tracks, is a free-standing construction, not reliant on any support from artwork or surrounding tracks. It has its own sequencers, limiters, and filters, and they are used in a very fresh and artistic way.
Sam Prekop is someone who expresses who he is through his art. Whether he is in a band or using these modular synthesizers by himself, he is creating something that people want to pay attention to. The Republic is definitely an enjoyable album. With his fourth solo album, 16 years after his first, Prekop is still growing and making music that gets better with every new release.