Was Ist Das?: [Thy-012].

March 30, 2011

Sometimes, words feel like such a blunt tool when you find yourself confronted with something so otherworldly. Not that it comes as too much of a surprise, the works of Seasons (pre-din) often leave words obsolete.

I’m pleased to say Yeti the dog tolerates this one, which is unusual as Seasons (pre-din) normally makes him kick off.

This could be because this one is a bit more synth-dominated with a pool swirling in the background of static, voices and alien sounds. As the release progresses, this pool comes to the fore, although the spoken words parts remain distant and only just discernible with effort.

For some reason I am reminded of a film I have never seen. Long ago, in a long gone shop, I read about a film called ‘Static’ about an inventor who claimed to have invented a TV set that allowed you to see heaven.

That is what Seasons (pre-din) is like – a musical window on to a strange other world.

There are a lot of very talented experimental musicians about these days, all vying for your attention. I would recommend that you fast track Seasons (pre-din) to the top of your list.

Wendy Cook: [Thy-012].

March 25, 2011

This is the 12th album from the mysterious Seasons(pre-din). It is de rigeur to use the prefix “mysterious” as no-one apparently knows who or what the project is. A little mystery in these days of uber-information is itself an achievement, but if mystery was all there was, there’d be no need to listen to the album week after week.

The icy chill of Lesser & Still is reminiscent of Aluminum Overcast by Chas Smith, an album seeming to belong to the outer reaches of the Solar System. Lesser and Still has the static hiss and detuned radio to soundtrack an abandoned space station, a sketch of slow patient hopeless eternity. The embedded film track samples, “it’s a different ocean it’s a different world”, fall as echoes in empty corridors.

Many reviews of Seasons speak of a cold dark disaffection but there is warm humanity deep in the core of these albums and something familiar in their dialect, like hearing a familiar accent when far from home. Though the descriptions may be of the least homely parts of the universe, they are brought by a friend, like the reassurance and terror of a parent reading ghost stories at bedtime. This balance of tone is part of the fascination of Lesser and Still.

Over the development of twelve varied albums, Seasons (pre-din) has built sound pictures from field recordings, processed instruments and from straight piano and guitar. Cathedrals of manipulation, chapels of sound. Seasons has an iron belief in the sound worlds he walks in – an ability to follow where they lead and an unblinking ability to gaze and gaze. Lesser and Still is an unflinching album with the reassurance of truth, of honesty. It is a shared recognition which makes it so compelling.

The man behind Seasons (Pre-Din) has been releasing beautifully hand-packaged CDs on his own Thy-Rec label for two or three years now. Every few months or so, with zero fanfare or prior warning, a new one will emerge out of the ether. Always emblazoned with a cryptic line of poetry (in this case, “I’ll be waiting with a knife and a rope…bare your soul and expose your throat”), the title of the record and little else, there’s a sense of mystery about the entire package that I find impossible to resist. Ranging from ebb/flow piano miniatures to dead-of-night drone, each of his releases feels like a tiny puzzle to be solved.

The five untitled and continuous tracks on Lesser and Still (Thy-012) are perhaps his most visceral yet. Opening with the tinny, slightly muffled sound of a long-lost radio broadcast (“the truth is in the gas chamber,” brr) and a gloomy swell of strings, the sense of foreboding is immediately palpable. There’s a rumble behind it coming from who-knows-where and before you know it you’ve been submerged in a maelstrom of FM static and the deafening whir of what sounds like helicopter propellers. Honestly, I don’t know what makes these sounds – no one does but the man himself – but it’s amongst the most evocative music I’ve heard in recent years. It gets louder; soon we’re taking off across untold plains. The strings hold and soar, the storm whips around us, strips our skin away and leaves us at the mercy of the screeching metallic horror gradually approaching. The radio voices return – indecipherable this time – chattering away, giving us hell and forcing our hands to our ears. Before we know it we’re being plunged into a vacuum (perhaps the gas chamber itself?), which sucks the final pathetic dregs of life out of our wasted bodies before disappearing almost as quickly as it took over. The strings return, mournful now, and the radio is shattered, crackling and fragmenting before fading into total silence.

It’s intense, sure, but boy is it exhilarating. Seasons (Pre-Din) keeps his records brief (I don’t think any of them exceed 30 minutes) and this serves to heighten the impact. His most recent releases are short, sharp shocks of pure, fearsome energy. In places Lesser and Still reminds me of Alan Lamb’s terrific Night Passage, on which the “songs” were created by attaching contact microphones to half-mile lengths of telephone wire and left alone over periods of time. That is to say that Lesser and Still feels less organic than some of his previous records – which have featured anything from birds chirping to babbling brooks (or things that sound like that, at least) – and more like a man-made nightmare of clashing metals, raging furnaces and total desolation.

Rumour has it that Lesser and Still may be the final Seasons (Pre-Din) release. If it does turn out that way, this is a fine way to say goodbye. Snap one up before they disappear forever.

Still anonymous, still clever enough to avoid bullshit. After my enjoyment of a previous release on Mystery Sea a while ago, Seasons (Pre-Din) comes back with a 130-copy limited edition exploiting the useful nuances deriving from a coincidence of radio ghosts, camouflaged instruments, urban landscapes and various kinds of noise. In some aspects, the CD might constitute (stereotype alert!) a soundtrack for an imminent apocalypse: listen to the cyber-seagull-like muffled squealing at the beginning of the fifth section (there’s also a phantom track whose instrumental basis is rather Pink Floyd-ish). The predominant pressure and the ominous atmosphere – facilitated by omnipresent subsonics and sinisterly morphing timbral combinations – are vaguely comparable with other realities from the same district (dark post-industrial whatchamacallit and bordering regions). Indeed, selected parts made yours truly fantasize about a Lustmord/Morthound crossbreed. However, once again the protagonist managed to separate his music from cheap commonplace, dousing the whole work with a tangible anguish that keeps it quite distant from the syrupy boredom typical of 90% of this stuff. A potential explosion of violence looms, but it never happens; tension is not released, and many sounds are just great to hear. Another good one – and “for Massimo Ricci” is even printed on the cover. Who knows if it’s a personalized promo – I think so – or an actual dedication to this barking scribbler? Go, (Pre-din), go.