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CD Feature/ Seht & Stelzer: "Exactly what you lost"

img  Tobias

Thanks to the “White Fungus” magazine, we have been allowed a glimpse of the busy New Zealand arts scene with its many different facets and interlinked communities. Within this scene, Stephen Clover, who goes by the name of Seht when it comes to music, is one of the busiest players: A painter, creator of sketches and drawings, writer, blogger and composer, his work borders different styles and genres and virtually screams for crossinsamination by others to bring its multimedial approach to full fruition. It is therefore somewhat surprising that “Exactly what you lost” is in fact his first collaborational release. The organic way in which it flows, however, strongly suggests that it won’t be his last.

With recordings taking place in Clover’s home base of Wellington and the studio of Intransitive Recording’s mastermind (and equally diversely disposed) Howard Stelzer, it certainly is a unique one in the sense that it defies all logic of working on a project together on two entirely different points of the globe. What one often encounters is that the results of such international meetings usually end up in tracks alternatingly dominated by one of the artists or in a conglomerate packed to the brim with layer upon layer and each artist trying to get in as much of his ideas as possible. “Exactly what you lost” is the very opposite of these two approaches, for it is seemlessly coherent in its fabric and minimalistically-pure to the bone in its arrangements. There is not a single note too many in any of these five pieces, neither in the shorter opening tracks, nor in the massive 26-minute finale, which relies on an abrasive bass drone and a single, ghostish melody which rears its head again and again in its defiant struggle against a certain demise, before surrendering to a vaporous solution and recordings of chirping birds and distant voices. It is almost as if these works were put on a diet, shedding kilo by kilo and pound by pound until they hit the point where the flesh meets the skeleton and “Supersize Me” seems like a bad joke from hell. It lends a very intense atmosphere to the music, which feeds from manifold influences: Very direct noise and tape manipulation-like squeaks and screetches, ethereal ambiances with microscopic crackling and subversive distortions, solemnly drifting vintage guitar drones and treated field recordings. Somehow, these compositions, some of them a mere two minutes long, are held together by an invisible glue, an unspoken understanding of where the record was supposed to go. Which is into no clearly charted territory, but into a world with many possibilities and scant words, a place which gets more concrete the less you ask for explanations.

Howard Stelzer describes the process as one of no spoken agenda and of creating loops, playing them to outdoor environments and then feeding them back into the system. For him, this collaboration is only one among many and follows in the footsteps of many previous multiplayer projects  – it would be more than welcome, however, if it wasn’t the last with Stephen Clover.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Seht/Stephen Clover
Homepage: Seht at MySpace
Homepage: Howard Stelzer
Homepage: Intransitive Recordings

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