Sam Prekop | The Republic (Thrill Jockey)

The collection of songs is entirely composed and performed on the modular synthesizer.



Sam Prekop is a very interesting musician—I’ve honestly never heard anything like The Republic. The collection of songs is entirely composed and performed on the modular synthesizer.

I’m shocked that I enjoyed it, because I love to sing, so when I listen to music it’s all about the notes and the lyrics. I like to sing songs that are telling a story that I can identify with. When I read that this album did not have words, but only music—and furthermore music made with a synthesizer instead of instruments—I’ll admit I was skeptical.

You know how you sometimes completely miss a song when you’re multitasking? Like if you’re driving in the car and a song that you like comes on, but you’re watching the road and thinking about where you’re headed so next thing you know you’re hitting the replay button because you somehow missed the entire song? I feel like that is less likely to happen with music that doesn’t have any words or vocals, because the song is less about the story and more about the feeling. You can still get the feeling when you’re not completely paying attention.

This is only half true of The Republic. I was able to multitask while listening to it and not feel like I missed something, but I also found myself stopping my other work to listen. The music still tells a story. Prekop made clear decisions with the melody and the beat. Each layer of music has a specific purpose.

As “The Republic 1” begins, I imagine myself in a crowded, dark room. There is a single guitarist on stage playing his opening note. The crowd waits in anticipation.

During “Weather Vane” I imagine myself on the dance floor of a club, having the time of my life, allowing the beat to take over.

I always thought using synthesizers or any technology to duplicate or change the sound of an instrument was unfair to those who spend years learning to play those instruments and make certain sounds come from them, but this is a different art. It’s innovative and intriguing.

I would not choose one form of music over the other or say that synthesizers are the way of the future while instruments are a way of the past. It is a matter of opinion, and the two can co-exist.

As for Sam Prekop, this is a job well done. A | Samantha LaBat

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