I guess there’s a discussion to be had about whether technology helps, hinders, or frankly doesn’t give a damn at all about the creation of great records. I'm down with the latter. I remember being in a recording studio, in Brighton or someplace, an age ago and the muted discussion about replacing the sound of the snare drum using a trigger to launch a Jon Bonham snare sample. It was going to happen I could tell, I mean, back in the 80s everyone was doing it so why don’t we? So the discussion goes. Clock ticking. Meanwhile my girlfriend was across town in the producer’s shower. Imagine my shock... at 16 computer controlled vocal tracks with a microchip managing by the millisecond which piece of each had been performed the ‘best’. At some point along the way there, the song got lost, not really mentioned much, not part of the bigger discussion.
Meanwhile, across town, across time, Brother Lee’s Seventh Season was taking shape, recorded at home on a vintage Tascam 244 cassette recorder, with one Radio Shack microphone and his wife's guitar and piano. 15 songs were recorded in a day day, delicately stripped, masterpieces painted, the songs evocative, intense and intimate. Oh man, Seventh Season is all about the song.
11 of the songs were retouched and make it here, onto the album, a record of Bill Callaghan-esque contemplation and beauty. It's also Brother Lee’s first vocal collection since The Prescriptions' Psychedelicatessen LP in 1993. The songs that make up Seventh Season are frequently acoustic, slow, brief and brisk.
“Lo-fi and hazy, sparse and spectral,” Lee says, of Seventh Season, recommending Hang On To Your Halo as a perfect example of its raw but elegant psychedelia. "There is a paranoia-edged backward guitar solo and Hammond organ drifting through the medicated fog to enjoy..."
The opener, Special One, though, is far more almost jaunty, near Jonathan Sings - Jonathan Richman era acoustic pop. A tacit treatment of emotional devastation, here is the deft lyrical touch of Kris Kristofferson, (as there is throughout), in the pain and the promise of redemption, if you’ll have it. You'll also get to enjoy the melodica.
It would be easy to say that Seventh Season tips its hat as the records' author suggests, to post-Floyd Syd Barrett, Skellington-era Julian Cope and most of Lawrences finest Felt moments, but that would be understating the compelling brilliance of this very personal record, swathed throughout with diaphanous intrigue and muted psychological intricacies... Yet everything here is relatable, everything here has already happened to you. Maybe you just haven’t owned it yet?
Seventh Season is short, making it easier to play many times as I have, unearthing new layers, new feelings each time. “Perfect,” Brother Lee says,” for late night / early morning acid folk campfire comedowns…”
If there's justice, is there justice? Seventh Season will make a lot of end of year lists.
A strictly limited number of CDs are available, but no plans for streaming anywhere beyond Bandcamp and I don’t know for how long it'll be there. Move sharpish, then.