Steven Shade’s Sevendeaths— at its most essential and reductive— makes anti “music concrète”. The Scottish producer has spent the last half decade on LuckyMe Records manipulating cheap midi sounds and warping their synthetic rings and oscillations into evocative, disorienting feedback. His compositions float just north of Sunn O)))’s trademark ominous drone, but without any of the “organic” instrumentation. He makes something amoebic out of the synthetic, letting disorganized chords and arpeggios coalesce into a natural whole. The FT4C EP continues Shade’s increasingly distinct sound while simultaneously leaving more open space and fragility between the swelling cacophonies.
“TH4C” opens the project with a slow burn, immediately distinguishing itself from the first two Sevendeaths records. Over ten minutes, the track builds around a metallic flurry of one-note synth stabs. The image of a relentlessly creaking fan comes to mind, as one synthesizer tries (and fails) to reach sonic equilibrium. In similar fashion, the bass-shocked groove of “SH4A” tries to reach a point of rhythmic stasis, but Shade only allows a brief moment of clarity before his creation dissipates into oblivion. These compositions lull in and out of coherency, but remain constantly engaging thanks to their hypnotic, bouncy energy.
On previous Sevendeaths records most songs reached their climax near their end, but on FT4C, some of the most dynamic bursts occur within the first three minutes. Working with longer runtimes allows for a more delicate unraveling of sounds. Where Concrète Misery functioned best as one entity and Remote Sympathy explored shorter musical tangents, every song on FT4C works entirely within its confines, achieving total ambient mesmerism. Instead of flowing into one another, the songs start and stop without necessarily regarding what came before. For the most part, this works to Shade’s favor, as his sonic palette remains constant throughout the project.
It’s not until the penultimate “SD4W” that Sevendeaths’ characteristically menacing drone hits the listener full force. Halfway through its thirteen minutes, sharp, piercing chords jut around calmer arpeggios. The most effective and demanding track on the project, it combines Shade’s previous explorations of “fake” guitar feedback (“Petrograde”) and propulsive, naked synth arpeggios (“Journey to E”). The finale, “BC4C”, brings in both organ and plucked sounds to appropriately balance out the shrill tones of the previous forty minutes.
Perhaps most curiously, FT4C is billed as an EP, even though it exceeds the duration of Concrète Misery and matches that of Remote Sympathy. Even more so, it stands as the most comfortable and calculated project of the Sevendeaths moniker. Regardless of its context or identity, FT4C further demonstrates Shade’s remarkable ability to create mangled worlds of inorganic yet deeply human sound. (Josh Hughes)