Boomkat Product Review:
One of the far-and-away best - and most unfathomably underrated - albums of the Chicago post-rock era, Sam Prekop's 1999 solo debut is an all-time great and might sound even better now than it did over two decades ago. It's basically an unofficial sequel to Tortoise's loungey classic "TNT", and is a stunningly spacious and effortlessly unforgettable album featuring Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground Duo), Josh Abrams (ex-Roots, Town and Country), Jim O’Rourke and Archer Prewitt (The Sea and Cake) among its personnel, splicing Brazillian and West African influences for one of the most enduringly lovely records of a whole era.
Back in the mid-1990s, it felt as if Chicago was the unofficial center of the post-rock universe. With Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, Isotope 217, U.S. Maple and Sam Prekop's own The Sea and Cake, the possibilities seemed endless, and these bands provided a jazzy alternative to the chunky experimental hardcore sound pedaled by Slint, Mogwai and Godspeed. It's hardly surprising that Pitchfork relocated to the city at the turn of the millennium. But for some reason, when Sam Prekop's debut album dropped in 1999, it failed to achieve the notoriety of Tortoise's similar and enduringly popular "TNT".
That's likely because while both albums share a soft-focus Brazilian pop-cum-lounge twang, Prekop's album centers vocals - long a sticking point for post-rock snobs. But now it makes perfect sense; this album thrives on words, and trancends into timeless territory on Prekop's breathy, fallible poetry. His performance angles it towards shimmering '60s and '70s pop records rather than the cozy Chicago scene of the day, which makes it all the more resonant in 2021.
With Chicago Underground's Rob Mazurek on cornet, The Sea and Cake's Archer Prewitt on guitar, Tortoise/Town and Country's Joshua Abrams on bass and Jim O'Rourke handling production as well as additional instrumentation and vocals, it's a veritable who's who of the scene. Even Tortoise frontman John McEntire shows up to play triangle - it's just that sort of record. And because it's that sort of record, there's a humble, laid-back kindness to it - 'Sam Prekop' feels like a bunch of friends getting together in the studio sharing a vibe. We're lucky to get a peek inside.