“Spirit sounds are usually of a peculiar character; they have an intensity and a character of their own, and, notwithstanding their great variety, can hardly be mistaken, so that they are not easily confused with common noises, such as the creaking of wood, the crackling of fire, or the ticking of a clock; spirit raps are clear and sharp, sometimes soft and light…” – Allan Kardec, The Medium’s Book (1861)
The Only Thing Left To Fear is a paranormal record that starts, pretty appropriately, with a slightly spooky set of recorded instructions – the performing of a seance, or an experiment that focuses on the very strange craft of automatic writing. Palms are clasped, and although the afternoon sun is present, the curtains have been drawn. They shut out the light. The music gradually enters, and the spirits slowly arrive. Or do they? This is “present and awake”. This is The Only Thing Left To Fear.
While people-eaters sounds like it could be the latest television zombie show to infest our screens (what’s up with the current zombie fetish, anyway?), it’s actually an eerie excursion into the paranormal. And despite the linking of hands, it’s just you and the music. It’s a lonely place, trapped between the two plains of the living and the dead. Taps, clanks and strange currents that channel something other than electricity conjure up a very eerie mood. “One for ‘Yes’, Two for ‘No’” is the sound of an experiment, dabbling with electricity in order to conjure up the spirits of the afterlife. It’s raw and uncut, and somehow the spooky mood bleeds out from the speakers and into the real world, just like Sadako climbing out of that well and out of the television screen. The wispy-but-abrasive drones of “Dull Sunset” sound like an episode of Most Haunted, minus the screams. They’re rough around the edges, grainy in texture. It’s a transparent apparition of sound that you can just about see. The later drones shiver in the corner, affected by a cold draught that shouldn’t be there. It’s nineteen minutes of pure tension, and it’s got just enough of an old, decaying scent of Victorian perfume to send you running. In fact, the music feels like an old theatre; it creaks and shudders as it enters the light and returns to the world it left behind.
There’s a noticeable separation between the eerie and the truly frightening, but it’s always been a thin border crossing, and the music comes close to crossing over. Perhaps the only thing left to fear is fear itself, but try telling that to the investigative team who will never set foot in that house again. (James Catchpole)