The enigmatic Seasons (pre-din) follows the blacker-than-a-black-hole ‘Stars and Lights: Together We Fall,’ with the magnificently sparsely-detailed ‘Occasionally I Forget to Breathe.’ At least having heard its predecessor, I’m semi-prepared.

Here we have another five untitled tracks, and the first hints at a lighter side of Seasons (pre-din), at least for the first four of its seven minutes. Beginning as a distant jangle and buzz, accompanied by birdsong, it could be taken as quite tranquil ambient music, but the sounds soon become tied to a loop that over the course of several minutes become increasingly torturous in its monotony. Slowly, half-audible but barely decipherable samples creep into the mix and the drones, pitched relatively high in frequency, ebb and flow while building in intensity all the while, until a barrage of white noise buries everything. This segues into the second track, which begins as a sustained blast of impenetrable noise, through which shadowy drones and mangled found sounds half emerge only to disappear again in the a flicker and an amplified hiss.

The remaining tracks all bleed together to form one fifteen-minute soundscape that’s as bleak and unsettling as anything you’re likely to hear. The endless drones of dark ambience – with the emphasis very definitely on the dark – are rent with crackling distortion and an icy nuclear wind that blasts through the senses. This isn’t so much the soundtrack to a nightmare, as a soundtrack that will induce nightmares. You have been warned.

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July 14, 2010

“Occasionally I forget to Breathe” is a self-released mini-album from Seasons (pre-din). Not having heard his album on Type I was interested to see what this artist had in store…

The first track opens with a slowly building glistening chord augmented with bird song. Imperceptibly this is encroached on by a two note string refrain which builds in presence before itself being consumed by the throbbing drone of the opening chord and gradually overwhelmed by waves of radio chatter and static. This opener is simple but effective in creating an absorbing atmosphere for the listener, building pleasant expectation for what might follow.

However, on departing from this opening track, a very different mood becomes the driving force for the rest of the album. Whereas the opener introduced a light, shimmering and almost hopeful, musical vision, the subsequent tracks abruptly plunge the listener into a cavernous and desolate sound world. Music, in the traditional sense, is sucked down into a black hole leaving only a husk of melody apparent in deep bass frequencies adrift amongst phantom atmospheres conjured out of relentless gales of wind and abrasive hissing assaults on the listener. Amidst the oppressive mood one can make out hints of something happening at the limits of perception – suggestions of notes and field recordings -the faintest of sonic mirages that are so barely present that one might not trust your own perception that they were actually there at all. This is a strange musical experience – the listener is always searching for an anchoring point, a small piece of solidity amongst a shifting ocean of debris.

Finally, from out of the baleful morass of tones of the fourth track, music appears again for the final piece on the album. Like a ship emerging from a thick fog, a two note refrain echoes that heard in the first piece, though here it is changed. Gone are the hopeful timbres of the notes of track one – here there is an altogether more ominous pitch, as if the notes had themselves journeyed through horrors unthinkable and were mere shells of their former selves. The album closes by crumbling into white noise and lost radio signals.

In sum, this is not a pleasant musical landscape for the listener – barren, unforgiving and disconsolate; it is music of abject hopelessness and surrender. This is, of course, not to say that there is nothing to be gained from listening to it – in fact the journey can be strangely rewarding, like witnessing torture or war and emerging changed by the experience…just don’t expect the change to be positive…

Often, split releases offer up a silver platter exposing the differences between the parties involved. Rather than crab cakes to red caviar, the shared 3-inch CD-R release from Black Eagle Child and Season (pre-din) finds the pairing complementary — like an exquisite cheese ball and fine-rosemary flavored crackers for a post-banquet beer crowd. Disc one features the hypnotically soothing blast of guitar effects known as “Covenant with the Clouds” from Black Eagle Child paired with the wandering walkie-talkie static and repetitious acoustic plucks of Season (pre-din) thought, “Falling” — the rise and subsequent fall of matter in a bright blue atmosphere, a plummet so hard to fathom that fear erodes and calm prevails, a free-fall turning into a successful landing by a babbling brook. Disc two finds more of the same, with Seasons (pre-din)’s recital of wind static and staccato piano (“We Are the Night”) taking over where the first disc gently ended. Black Eagle Child’s “Disfigurement Moon Milk” finishes the four-song dream sequence, utilizing a chameleon guitar melody and a similar thread of white static to complete the collaboration. Rather than feeling like two separate thoughts from two artists, these discs act as one continuous idea.