Music For Quiet Corners…

January 21, 2012

3 short new tracks have been added to ‘Music For Quiet Corners…’ and are available to download from the downloads page.

Foxy Digitalis: [Thy-012].

January 6, 2012

Steve Dewhurst’s Best Cdr of 2011.

Seasons (Pre-Din) provided me with my first review and interview for Foxy Digitalis, all the way back in March. It’s true I have a soft spot for the mysterious artist’s work and I do find it incredibly sad that he chose to stop making music after this, one of his most powerful releases. The impression I got from him during the interview (which was done via email – I never found out his real name or saw a picture of his entire face) was that he’d completely exhausted himself through music and had reached a point from which he found it impossible to continue. Lesser and Still, full of hidden anger and frustration, was a suitably epic way to end a project that developed out of piano miniatures into radio static and through to flat-out noise terror.

Epitonic: [Thy-012].

December 17, 2011

Steve Dewhurst’s Subversive Top 10

2011 has been something of an annus mirabilis for drone and ambient music, so it’s sad that Seasons (Pre-Din) decided to call it a day with Lesser and Still. For my money, the mysterious Mr. (Pre-Din) has released some of the most engaging drone music in recent years, and he left us with one of his best. Consisting of five connected tracks that get heavier as they progress, the music on Lesser and Still is a far cry from the quaint piano tinkles he started out with in 2007, yet still provides a fascinating (if slightly unsettling) insight into a creative mind that reached an exhausted end.

As i asked for it to be published.

It’s in danger of becoming some sort of weird Seasons (pre-din) love-in, my article history, but if truth be told there are few other artists in recent memory who’ve captured my imagination quite like he has. It all started maybe 12 months ago when I ordered his Stars and Lights: Together We Fall CD from Boomkat. As soon as it arrived I knew I was going to love it. The home-made packaging with its stark design, lines of poetry and complete lack of any artist information whatsoever appealed completely to my sense of wonder and the music contained within was majestic. There and then I decided to try and get hold of everything he’d ever released. The discovery of free downloads on his blog piqued my interest further and my first email enquiry as to the availability of CDs resulted in a package of five albums arriving on my doorstep just days later. Each and every one of them was hand-made and dedicated: “For Steve.” Touched by his generosity and intrigued by his music, I decided it was time to dive in and ask for an interview. Over the course of a few weeks I spoke to him via email about the importance of anonymity, the creative process and what the future holds for Seasons (pre-din). What you are about to read will be the one and only interview Seasons (pre-din) will ever give.

The first thing I’m interested in is the importance of anonymity to you. You’ve released quite a lot of music now and still no one really knows who you are. What role does anonymity play in your work?

I guess it depends how you define anonymity. I don’t think people need to know anything about me; the more people know about me the more chance there is that they’ll judge my music in respect to how they perceive me. They’ll approach it in a different way. I don’t want that; I really don’t matter. Some people may wonder who the person behind my albums is and, more often than not, I think the same thing. It isn’t a conscious decision to make the kind of music I do, it comes out that way and I’m quite shocked by the results at times. I guess it’s a way of expressing a side of my personality I repress – it’s a much healthier form of expression than others but I find the process of making music self-destructive anyway. Some people seem to place too much emphasis on things that distract from what I do. I consider my presence as nothing more than a distraction – I’d rather they removed me from the equation altogether.

What about self-releasing records? And hand-making/dedicating each one? In an age where downloads have taken over more and more artists seem to be releasing cassettes & CDs in limited numbers and giving them personal touches – why do you think this is?

I can’t speak for others and why people release albums the way they do, I just do things in a way I feel comfortable with and always have. It’s a misconception that my releases are limited though. Distributors say an album of mine is limited to a certain number of copies as they only have a limited number of copies to sell, that’s all. People aren’t used to contacting artists personally to purchase records, therefore if a distributor says an album of mine is limited to however many copies and is now sold out, people assume it’s no longer available. This isn’t the case. One of the reasons I release my albums myself is so I can keep them available on a permanent basis. Limiting albums doesn’t appeal to me – it makes your music exclusive and I don’t want that. It frustrates me that a growing number of labels don’t seem to be willing to challenge themselves or take a chance on artists. They’ll limit a release to a hundred copies as they know, regardless of who the artist is, they will sell out and break even. They don’t promote the album or anything else due to this, this doesn’t benefit the musician and is detrimental to them getting their music heard. These labels don’t pay musicians either; the money from these releases funds the labels next release, not the musicians. I’m not making commercial music, far from it – it has a limited appeal but that doesn’t mean peoples access to it should be limited. I don’t want to deny anyone the opportunity to judge it for themselves. Due to the way I release my albums I have complete control over every aspect of a release. I’m the musician, the label and the main distributor. I have more control over how my music is released and how it is presented than most musicians. It’s a good position to be in and I think more people should do it.

Do you enjoy making music? I sort of get the impression you find it to be a difficult and exhausting process.

Part of me does and part of me doesn’t. There’s a sense of achievement when you finish something and can say that it’s an accurate reflection of yourself at that time. The problem is that an album is months and months of work condensed into twenty minutes or so and due to this the process of recording an album consumes you completely. I never know how an album will sound when I start it, it’s only when I’m part way in that it begins to take shape. At that point it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling – happy or sad, whether I’ve had a good day or a bad day. When I sit down to record I have to be in whatever frame of mind the music dictates to work on it. This has had more of an effect on the last three albums than on any of the others. With Stars And Lights…, when my music took a darker turn, it wasn’t a good frame of mind to be in, especially for such lengths of time, and I was pretty shocked listening to what I was making. It didn’t sound like my music, it didn’t sound like me. The fallout from this was Occasionally I Forget…, the recording of which was disorientating. I ended up being in that frame of mind constantly, whether I was recording or not. It wasn’t a case of the music being a reflection of the artist, but the artist being a reflection of the music. It had a negative impact on all aspects of my life – I was confused by the music I was making, who I was and became self-destructive because of it. The recording of the last album, Lesser And Still, was the worst thing I’ve been through. I was tearing myself limb from limb to get it out. It may as well be a recording of me screaming for twenty minutes. I gave up on it more times than I can remember. By this point I hated my music and myself because of it. When I listen back to it I hear everything: the claustrophobia, the desolation, the self-harm, the decay, the destruction, it’s all there. I think it’s the best album I’ve made – it’s perfect to me, it’s uncompromised, brutal, honest and beautiful. I don’t particularly find making music easy. As I said before though, it’s a form of self-expression [and] I wouldn’t do it if I found it easy – there wouldn’t be any point.

The CDs you release usually feature lines of poetry. Where do you get these and do you choose them to suit the particular mood of the record?

The words are my own though the only thing I normally write with an album in mind is the title. The title and the music are inseparable to me. The words and the cover photo for a release may have been written or taken a year before I’ve even started recording an album. This doesn’t mean I put any less thought into picking what I use than I do everything else though. I think every aspect of a release is important; the title, cover photo and words all have to work in relation to each other and compliment each other, as they have to in relation to the music and the music them. I like the way all these different aspects, when taken out of context and stood alone, evoke their own imagery, but when put together and presented as a whole they all feed off each other. These things influence how people approach the music but the music also influences how people approach them. Once someone has listened to the album these things are seen in relation to the music; they’re given a context and seen in a different light. Due to this the meanings or the imagery may change. All these things are suggestive and it’s down to the individual as to how they’re interpreted.

Will Thy-012 be the final S (p-d) release, as you’ve suggested that it might be? If so, what’s up next? Presumably you’ll still make music. Is a change of direction on the cards?

I think it has to be. I’ve tried to work on various things lately but there’s nothing there. Everything has sounded empty and without substance to me and I’m not going to continue making this kind of music if that’s the case. I’ve never thought about a change of direction, I’ve always let things take their natural course. I need to change a lot of things though and if I change I’m sure my music will too. I’ve always made music and that’s not going to change, whether I’ll release anything I record, or even let anyone hear it, is a different matter. I’m proud of the music I’ve made as Seasons (pre-din) though and i’ll keep the albums available. It would have been a waste of time if I didn’t. Before I do anything I’m going to take a break and disappear for a while. Given that most people don’t seem to be able to mention Seasons (pre-din) without using the word “mysterious,” this shouldn’t be difficult. Most people don’t seem to think I exist anyway…

The music of our anonymous friend Seasons (pre-din) has become a very welcome visitor to the Wonderful Wooden Reasons seedee player. His music is sometimes melancholic, sometimes aggressive, always deeply immersive. Here, he presents a short(ish) set of gritty drones occasionally threaded with dialogue, sometimes audible, sometimes not. It’s a sublime album that is easy to find oneself utterly lost within. My sole complaint is with the long period of silence in the middle of the final track that seems a little pointlessly indulgent and serves only to break the mood and make the final swelling of sound feel like an afterthought.
As ever though this is music to be relished.

I once wrote a really silly review for this chap’s album on Type. It was very truthful and rather affectionate, merely describing what I was hearing/experiencing in comedy layman’s terms rather than overintellectualising the work like the clever kids do. This ruse actually worked a treat once, I learned, when a man came up to me in Brighton saying he’d had Cindy talk on his experimental internet radio show & they’d read my review for a sound-art inclined 10″ of theirs live on-air. My butt clenched & my blood momentarily froze in horror as I recalled my ridiculous, rambling, irreverent review… until he guffawed & informed me the band had been in tears of laughter at my lumpen, harried description of their lovingly sculpted sound-world. My story therefore makes a good review because to try & intelligently convey this dissonant, ominous & foggy dystopian trip is pretty difficult! Grainy muted snippets of dialogue chunter over a calm wash of radio hiss & white noise? You got it. Thrumming, malevolence & fuzzed-out industrial abstraction? Knock yourself out! The final track knocks back the aural mist & introduces some of the most sombre & beautiful synth work I’ve heard this year, with some more tastefully applied disembodied dialogue, albeit of the most indecipherable & ghostly manner. A fine end to an absorbing listen.

The Liminal: [Thy-012].

April 1, 2011

I’ve already mentioned Eleh, but here is another deeply mysterious character. This latest release from Seasons (Pre-Din) isn’t giving much away, other than an unsettling air of dangerously obsessive love. The cover is shadowy dark brown on black, a sweet personalised dedication sitting next to the words “I’ll be waiting with a knife and a rope…bare your soul, expose your throat”. Valentine’s Day must be a right bloody laugh chez Pre-Din. The contents are no less troubling. Over droning strings, Charles Manson rants psychotically, (it is the same “every reality is a new reality” speech that Coil once sampled), and the music just gets progressively darker and darker from there, the field recordings sounding increasingly blistered, the radio samples becoming tangled and buried under the encroaching tendrils of gloom. Even by the third of its five parts, the blackness is all that is left. Anyone arriving here by following the trails from the gothic menace of more recent work by Xela and Svarte Greiner will find much to enjoy in this particular clearing. Well, I say “enjoy”.

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.