The Sound of Trees Falling on People
18 Track, LP (2008, Knitting Club Records)
Once known as Commander Keen but now going by a less copyright-infringing handle, Sydney trio Seekae have crated a sprawling epic of indie electronica with their debut album The Sound of Trees Falling on People. Displaying a preference for the lively, warm beats and tones of the Warp label’s early years, Seekae recall a time when the term IDM (or Intelligent Dance Music) didn’t seem like a meaningless joke, when the likes of Plaid and Autechre were setting forth on journeys of discovery into electronic music’s heretofore unexplored territories.
Not that The Sound of Trees Falling on People is a purely electronic album. There’s guitar here — carrying the melody of ‘Wool’ (which features the vocals of Ghoul’s Ivan Vizintin, one of the most interesting vocalists Sydney currently has to offer) and laying down washes of shoegazey soundscapes on the album’s epic centrepiece ‘John Duncan’ — as well as snatches of piano, melodica, sampled voices and (if the bio is to be believed) spoons.
But it’s Seekae’s dynamic rhythms, mulched beats and retrofied synths that are at the forefront. ‘Centaur’ is the kind of upbeat number that would make Qua proud, while the watery cascades of ‘Herodotus’ are reminiscent of Telefon Tel Aviv. ‘Snax’ appears to have been built from shards of early-’90s computer game sounds (the group is, after all, named after a classic character of that era).
The Sound of Trees Falling on People is at times quite ambient, sometimes recalling some of Aphex Twin’s more subliminal excursions (especially tracks like ‘Crooks’, ‘Halley Wars’ and ‘Snow Spectrum’). There are no sharp edges to Seekae’s sound – everything here seems to give off a soft autumnal glow. But it’s not muzak. Though it can serve as a nice backdrop to a lazy Sunday afternoon spent reading comics, there’s plenty on The Sound of Trees Falling on People to uncover – whole worlds, in fact — and should you want to dig deeper into these sounds, dig you should.
by Adam D Mills