Seht is an ambient/experimental electronics project helmed by Wellington, New Zealand-based musician Stephen Clover. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit to knowing Clover — ish.
I don’t know Clover well. But I know him well enough to say “Hi” when I bump into him at the record store we both haunt. I also know Clover well enough to be somewhat (read sickeningly) jealous of his encyclopedic knowledge of obscure music. And I definitely know Clover well enough to be envious of his mountainous music collection.
It’s those last two points that matter here. Because I’ve always been fascinated how musicians like Clover, with broad music tastes and stockpiles of inspiring albums, distill what must be a swathe of influences when creating stripped-back tracks.
To my ears, Clover’s musical methodology (with Seht, at least) mirrors the work of a minimalist artist — and to a certain degree it feels similar to NZ sound deconstructors like Omit or Fuckalt. Clover often concentrates on a few core shifts in tone or frequencies to accentuate Seht’s music/effect, and the result is frequently hypnotic.
That modus operandi is ever-present on Seht’s latest album, I Follow the Moon. The album’s musical palette is stark, but its songs still paint captivating pictures and often feel packed with emotion. Clover’s gradual audio adjustments evoke dreamlike scenes and shape ghostly memories, and that’s going to please anyone who’s enjoyed the strange atmospherics on Seht’s previous releases for labels like PseudoArcana, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, and Digitalis Recordings — see the deservedly-lauded The Green Morning.
I Follow the Moon mixes electronic glitches with ethereal murmurs, barely-there whispers and even glimpses of Bladerunner synth on entrancingsoundscapes. (And the album’s hiss and scratch electronics and bare-boned percussion remind me, in parts, of Pole’s early downtempo explorations.) “Digital Precipate” sets the scene with rattling and rain-soaked other-worldliness, before Clover weaves stuttering electronics through a woozy shoegaze-esque wash on “Cat Head Shadow Geometry”.
Background chatter echoes behind step-by-step tonal tweaks on “Irregular Polygon I” (and on “Irregular Polygon II”), and subtle beats and microtonal surges coil around each other on the luxuriant “Four Rings; Orbital Nodes”. I Follow the Moon is immersed in serene — albeit melancholic — waves on standout (and blissed-out)aural tapestries like “Greatest Eclipse” and the gorgeous “Umbra and Penumbra”. And the album finishes with two bonus tracks, “Irregular Polygon III” and “See if It’s Really Them (Again)”, which could both happily reside on a cult sci-fi soundtrack.
Much of I Follow the Moon feels like haunting recollections are dissolving in front of your eyes, especially when moments of tension and beauty intertwine. And like the work of minimalist maestros such as Thomas Köner or Deathprod, Seht’s music grows more involving (and mesmerising) as it slowly unfurls.
Of course, experimental electronics slowly unfurling aren’t everyone’s idea of fun. Some people desire more flesh on their drones, and more hot-blooded bleeps and blips, and I Follow the Moon isn’t going to fuel your engine if you’re looking for brawny or turbocharged electronics.
Clover takes his time building meditative songs that take us someplace else. In doing so, I Follow the Moon leaves behind the frenetic pace of modern life, and it allows you to jettison your anxieties and bathe your consciousness in the sublime.
If you’re seeking a glimpse of the void or the divine, that’s all here. But, truthfully, I don’t know how you’ll interpret I Follow the Moon or where it’ll take you — and that’s a huge plus in my book. The best ambient music always feels deeply personal, and there’s no question that I Follow the Moon is intimate and custom-made for introverts, just like me.
I Follow the Moon is being self-released digitally, and is issued on limited-edition cassette via label Epic Sweep.