The Three Things You Can Hear
NETHERLANDS Nearly Not There Records / Annihaya Records NNTR01 LP/CD (2016)
On this, his first solo album, Seamus Cater aims to combine “new song-writing and contemporary acoustic music drawing on revivalist folk music and 60s minimalism as source material”. What sets him apart from practitioners working in similar ways like Richard Dawson or Richard Youngs or Alasdair Roberts? There’s the minimalism of course, and the production is high quality but very spare.
As well as Fender Rhodes, the familiar junk-shop-find 1941-vintage duet concertina accompaniment abides for those who enjoyed Cater’s last studio outing; The Anecdotes with Viljam Nybacka. Although positioned as a solo record, Cater is not always alone on The Three Things You Can Hear; there are also rather understated contributions from Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke of The International Nothing, Koen Nutters and Morten J. Olsen of The Pitch and Konzert Minimal and Johnny Chang, also of Konzert Minimal. Han Jacobs contributes saw. Incidentally, this album was mastered by Jeff Carey; the man who contributed “reverb” to a piece on The Anecdotes. There’s a crossover here for those interested in quiet music: Berlin-based Johnny Chang is part of the Wandelweiser collective, in fact alongside Koen Nutters, he co-curates the Wandelweiser group-based concert series Konzert Minimal.
Despite working with what could be termed “traditional instrumentation”, Cater is not afraid to deviate from traditional songform. His unhurried approach to his material tends to focus the listener’s attention. His is more than simply a considered approach; he has a deep and sympathetic relationship with his material and the history and tradition within. His family’s musical background can be seen as a way of determining Cater’s interests for sure. His own experiences as a young man deep within the anti-authoritarian, transient, atmospheric, acid house culture of the late 1980s may possibly be important; possibly not. Interestingly, he seems to have been a recognisable figure at the time in the acid house scene – Cater has recently survived being name-checked by The Prodigy's Keith Flint.
I have the lp version here which is housed in a great die-cut sleeve – nice, rounded corners; very unusual –a three colour silkscreened etelage card sleeve adorned with an image of a human head, moping a little perhaps? There is also a full-colour printed card bookmark inscribed by hand with a download code, plus a gigantic A1 fold-out silkscreened/digital print lyric sheet. The vinyl is an edition of 300, although Annihaya Records have also released the cd version in an edition of 500.