> Music review: SEODAH – Rossum: Experimental Radio – The atmosphere of an unoccupied basement, the shiver that comes just before the jump scare - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

Music review: SEODAH – Rossum: Experimental Radio – The atmosphere of an unoccupied basement, the shiver that comes just before the jump scare

SEODAH is an acronym for ‘Sound Effects of Death and Horror’, and is the brainchild of musician and producer  John D’Alex Seodah-Johnson, who draws his thematic influence here from the 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Czech writer Karel Capek. 

This fourth album is wildly eclectic, initially sounding like a mash-up of John Carpenter and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with its wobbly synth lines and dystopian-sounding samples. As it progresses, there’s the chiming minimalism of 60s composers like Steve Reich and nods to rave-era artists such as The Orb, The Future Sound of London and Aphex Twin. 

All our collective childhood scares come flooding back, from creepy, late-night European animation, to the 1984 film drama Threads, which focused on imminent nuclear war. Here is our fear distilled, our fragile humanity made manifest via ghostly voices crackling in late-night transmissions. Johnson splices it together skilfully, tapping into a kind of sonic fever dream. It’s like the impulse to watch horror cinema through fingers, unable to look away. 

Yet Johnson is not merely a one-trick pony. There are many other moods and textures here.’No One Can Hate More Than A Man’ is more dubby, bass-heavy, like Augustus Pablo playing sci-fi. ‘The World Is Yours’ is a distorted call to arms, as funky as it is unearthly. Sometimes, it’s even strangely beautiful and touching.

This is music unlike other modern artists such as Tycho, Bicep, and Gold Panda, as it isn’t about creating a warm, relaxed environment. Instead, it is all about the atmosphere of an unoccupied basement, the shiver that comes just before the jump scare. It’s electronic music with one foot in the eerie past and one in the future, always alert and primed for any eventuality.

Rossum: Experimental Radio is out 26th May via Wormhole World 

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