THLTTLDBB ~ SeeUSearching

We like seasonally appropriate music at ACL – you may have noticed our articles about Summer and Winter music, and if not, may we suggest you take a look at them, at a time that suits? Releasing a record that fits the season plays well with us, so it is pleasing to note that the lead single for SeeUSearching is titled “Autumn,” just in time for the start of that meteorological season. It is a well-crafted portrait, in which you can imagine the breeze becoming fresher, the nights getting cooler, and the sun setting earlier.

The duo of Matt Greenwell and Phillip Andrew Lewis, who record as THLTTLDBB, reinforce the impression left by “Autumn” to create some vivid moments of atmospheric drone-centred ambience. There is plenty left to interpretation: the whispers and hums captured here create the impression of a worn-out VHS tape or some faded polaroids. But these sounds could also evoke the wind whistling across a cold, empty beach or rattling an abandoned coastal warehouse. It’s no coincidence that the cover artwork captures both these mental images in one picture. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however.

SeeUSearching hits a sweet spot between Julianna Barwick and The Caretaker, striking a balance with the unearthly and otherworldly. There are plenty of ethereal voices in the opening sequence, with the second half of the album more concerned with the ghost in the machine. There’s a more industrial edge to the arrangements: the abandoned warehouse we imagined in our mind’s eye is unoccupied but whoever owned it before left the equipment plugged in – and they are still chattering away. Each half of the album has its own little mood disruptor, breaking the flow with a grainier and grittier diversion – it’s a clever approach that works very effectively.

An unusual phenomenon is occurring in nature at the end of August 2022, as the leaves are already turning golden. It does not herald an early Autumn but indicates the trees shutting down as an act of self-preservation as the water runs dry. What should be a beautiful image in October is instead one that disquiets and discomfits in Summer. It provokes a feeling that echoes throughout SeeUSearching – there is beauty here, but under the surface, there is something more sinister. In nature, it is potentially catastrophic. But in music, it is strangely wonderful. (Jeremy Bye)

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