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Mike Seed | Rookwood Dream (Independent)
Considering it is the singular inevitability, it's pretty natural to think about death. It's a big subject. I think about it a lot; possibly about as much as I entertain thoughts of sex, politics, music and history. Thousands of songs have been written about the subject. Ex of Isle of Man psychedelic popsters Ways of Stephen, Mike Seed thinks about death, and so his second solo outing 'Rookwood Dream' is permeated with contemplations on the absolute finality. This is a deeply moving, often harrowing collection of fiercely lo-fi folk music, and as such, nothing short of a minor masterpiece. Seed's affecting voice is much to do with the wonder of this album, slotting croakily in between Kelly Joe Phelps and M.Ward. Another factor is the lyrical imagery, often transporting the listener to the rural Britain of another century, with its talk of parishes and plagues. There are some truly breathtaking songs here, the first to appear being Dry Bones In The Valley, a lament from beyond the grave of a restless spirit desperately seeking peace: "The dry bones in the valley finally made it to the church...If Jesus doesn't want me, I may as well get drunk," it wails. Putting The Fountain To Sleep is by far the album's lightest moment, a pretty pastoral pop song like a very slightly aggressive Sodastream, with an exquisite violin from Sarah Moore. From the following Sleep Where I Fall ?? midway through Rookwood Dream ?? proceedings start to fall apart and become positively unsettling. Sleep is a damaged work of great invention, and sets the tone for what follows, until the last notes of the fucked up avant-garde spoken-word madrigal closer, Procession of Smoke. How Do You Kill A Memory? examines regrets and misdemeanours, and the burden they can bring to those unable to escape them. It's sung with a slight snarl, and features a beautiful sax from Stephen Hind. Through the stark and ghostly White Stone, O Swallow, O Swallow and Down Among The Reeds we arrive at Come Away, a song of inconceivable sadness that is almost too much to bear. Far be it from me to reveal intimate details of Seed's personal life, I will disclose only that it concerns the passing of a loved one. The lyrics make everything clear, so I'll leave it there in the name of respect. That's 'Rookwood Dream' then ?? a work of bedroom genius, and the most emotionally punishing music I've heard so far this year. This is a self-distributed release, so contact Mike Seed directly at mike.seed@talk21.com to obtain a copy.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002

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