Stephen Clover, AKA Seht, has a gift for spinning the wheel of musical chance and landing in hallucinogenic waters every time. ?The Voice of Taniwha? is a twisted ride through altered states and warped homemade sounds that find our hero in all sorts of provocative settings, and coming from the kind of isolated perspective that?s come to mark the most memorable of New Zealand?s fringe sound explorers.
The short ?[Preamble]? is just over a minute of gentle strums and amp buzz, before ?[Gas Reg Stn + Carillon]? veers into collage with scratchy feedback and environmental field recordings. These shorter pieces are the connecting tissue between more expansive mood-workouts like ?Make the Baby Jesus Cry Some More,? a somnambulist rite of bass, bells and spoken word that manages to hypnotize and menace at the same time. And ?Requiem for John Fahey? finds Clover?s stark acoustic picking staring down distant voices and manipulated feedback, taken from a Gang of Four song, over nearly 11 minutes of measured raga and blues. It?s a brilliant bit of folk/ noise experimentalism buoyed by the kind of playful DIY aesthetic that Fahey himself cherished.
In his own claustrophobic way, Clover conveys human alienation and psychic mystery in compact, minimalist soundtracks. On ?Ac. Gtr. #2? that means oblique guitar plucks wrestle grating bows down a dark industrial corridor. ?Can We Speak Freely? pushes things further with detuned strings meandering through he-said/she said spoken word which grows more bizarre with each refrain to the point that all that?s left are gurgling electronics and processed vocals. In fact, interesting tape work abounds on this strange little disk, especially on the disturbed ?Canned Laughter,? which has the fevered menace that marked Nurse With Wound?s most outrageous work in the early 80s.
?St. Valentine?s Day 2003?, on the other hand, dedicates over half of its 10 minutes to rainfall and traffic sounds. A sustained drone eventually pierces the wash before a small marching band sounds what could be a lament for fallen soldiers. It?s a sadly poetic moment that exists outside of time or space but still somehow finds the heart. ?The Voice of the Taniwha? is an album that regularly defies expectation and ignores any current trends in favor of a more personal brand of paranormal investigation. 8/10 -- Lee Jackson (8 August, 2005)