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Seht & Stelzer - Exactly What You Lost

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Artist: Seht & Stelzer

Album: Exactly What You Lost

Label: Intransitive

Review date: May. 15, 2007


The twisted and spirited tape abuse that opens Exactly What You Lost isnít indicative of whatís to follow. In fact, as soon as the first track ends, the disc departs into a wholly dissimilar territory, something far more murky and ambient. But, such contrast in sound is a surprisingly rare occurrence here, especially considering its origins. Created through the mail by Intransitive head honcho Howard Stelzer and Kiwi Stephen Clover (a.k.a. Seht), Exactly What You Lost was made with no predetermined focus, developing organically as it shuttled back and forth between Massachusetts and New Zealand. Itís unknown what might have caused Seht and Stelzerís synergy, but their efforts result in a cohesive sound, understated and wholly lacking the one-upmanship and excessive addition that can mar such long distance collaborations.

In the creation of Exactly What You Lost, Seht and Stelzer exchanged tapes through the mail, a somewhat romantic idea in this age of file sharing and virtual information transfer. However, given each manís penchant for tape loops and cassette manipulation, this more physical transfer of material was a choice practicality. Suprisingly, the first track aside, thereís not a great deal of telltale tape wrangling on the disc, which operates largely in a foggy stew of dark auras and viscous aural ooze. Decay and disintegration were consistent themes in Seht and Stelzerís yearlong correspondence, and Exactly What You Lost shows it, with music thatís allowed to move, breathe, and, ultimately, expire.

The albumís opening track is perhaps more indicative of what seems like an alluring concept for tape conductors, that high-energy technique that favors sonic mutilation over the creation of an ambience. And while such hyperactive flair has its place, the more minimalist exploration of tape degradation found on Exactly What You Lost signals a more patient approach, one of a more immersive character. Its sound is more anonymous than that of the traditionally frenetic and demonstrative mode of tape manipulation, but Seht and Stelzerís debut collaboration is a work no less impressive in its utlilization of tapeís latent potential.

By Adam Strohm

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