Keith Seatman – ‘all hold hands and off we go’ reviewed

❉ The fifth album of Electronica, Psych, Radiophonics, Drone and wyrd folk by Keith Seatman. 

It’s no exaggeration to say, dear We Are Cult reader, that we’re a broad church. If we were a shopkeeper, we’d probably be the shopkeeper out of Mr Benn. We do like to keep you informed of all the nice stuff. Sometimes that stuff comes to us after release, but it’s still good to be able to spread the word. All hold hands and off we go, the fifth album by long time folk/electronica artist and A Year In The Country contributor Keith Seatman came out back in April, but better late than never, eh?

Seatman, a veteran of Peel and Andy Kershaw, Late Junction and Freak Zone sessions since the 1980s, specialises in crepuscular late night uneasy listening, which he’s honed over a series of albums and guest appearances. Sounding somewhere between Broadcast and Position Normal, found sounds, psychedelia, drones, wyrd folk, and electronica are his business, laced with the artefacts and trappings of childhood, playground chants, and hints of Folk Horror. Basically, imagine The Owl Service, but with wind-up owls.

Sometimes it’s very pretty. Sometimes it makes you glance out of the window to make sure that there aren’t people wearing Badger Masks stood menacingly at the end of your drive. Sometimes it’s both of those things. It’s intriguing, inventive stuff, quite bouncy in places, and the propulsive title track motors along with infectious energy like a sort of 70s children’s TV version of Can. The arcing sweep of skipping rope sounds just like Seatman’s making the shape of one using an oscillator and turning it into a nightmarish nursery rhyme.

 

The whole album has a sort of fractured-dream ambience, particularly on odd in a nightcap and cup, and the itchy dread of tap tap. Elsewhere, left behind or lost & dropped comes across like a sort of Radiophonic Hawkwind, while four steps at a time drapes a gentle melody over a skittering beat and billowing tape delays.

Devon songwriter and regular collaborator Douglas E Powell guests on a couple of tracks, contributing detached, Syd Barrett-like vocals to the fractured, Barrett-esque mr metronome and the howl into the void that is boxes with rhythms in, which both sound like a version of Syd’s Floyd rebuilt by a child from memory.

The closing please, is it you? ends on an uncertain note, an easy groove that devolves into a whirlpool of electronic undulations, lost in the woods, as Seatman’s deft soundscapes unravel into the white noise of childhood fears. It’s a fascinating, sometimes unsettling listen, evoking childhood games and that slight unconscious dread that sometimes goes with those faded polaroid memories. We Are Cult highly recommend all hold hands and off we go. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some men with Badger Masks outside and I’m looking for a broom.


❉ ‘all hold hands and off we go’ by Keith Seatman is available on CD and Digital download from Bandcamp

 Martin Ruddock has written for ‘Doctor Who Magazine’, the ‘You And Who’ series, and is a regular contributor to We Are Cult. He lives in Bournemouth with a beautiful, very patient woman and teetering piles of records and nerd stuff. He loves writing, and may write something for you if you ask nicely.

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