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.