Seance! With Zabrecky 12” single
(In The Red Records)
On the surface, noting that Seance! With Zabrecky 12” single. is a novelty record just goes without saying. Sure – people still indulge in trying to make contact with the deceased, on occasion, and some people even claim to have been successful; but really, it always boils down to how far one is willing to play along with the shtick; as the quote on the cover of this album states, “If you believe, you will receive.”
Yes, particularly around Hallowe’en, it’s fun to play around/along with notions of the most lighthearted forms of the occult – but every idea needs to have a visible limit. Let’s be honest here – it stands to reason that, if we were capable of contacting the dead, we’d likely have a better idea of what happens after we die. I mean, someone must have asked, right? But no one seems to know – so receiving messages from beyond the grave is an exercise in soft logic. Of course, in response to the subtext on the cover of Seance! With Zabrecky, “You can’t spell ‘believe’ without a little lie, right there in the middle.”
Sorry to be a wet blanket. I know – sheets make good ghost costumes, not wet blankets.
But what about this record? I mean, no one spends the money to press a record under the assumption that no one will buy it, so what is there to this release?
Well, there isn’t a lot to it, particularly, but there is enough that Seance! With Zabrecky can at least make as good a party game as a Ouija board does, or it can be a good prop to have around while handing out candy on October 31st. As soon as stylus catches groove on the A-side of Seance!, Zabrecky makes the most of the open space in the mix, and keeps it relatively vacant in order to let the minds of listeners wander. He offers some cordial salutations to listeners as well as informing them of the tools they’ll need to conduct a seance (a white candle, matches) and then begins an almost hypnotic dialogue to contact the spirit of one’s choice. In the background, an understated mix of static sounds really does assist in helping Zabrecky set a relaxing experience; there is nothing jarring in the mix and there is nothing which could produce a Hallowe’en-y jump scare, everything in the mix exists simply to set a mood. To its credit, the recording does work – the combination of “relaxing” and “eerie” vibes make it seem as though anything is possible and, when the needle lifts, there is a sense that something may have actually occurred – even if the only thing which happens is that listeners will rush to their turntables to flip the record over in order to see what’s on it, if anything.
To its credit, the only way in which the Seance! With Zabrecky single really bows to convention it that the artist has included some music on it for those who purchase the 12” single to enjoy. There, listeners will discover a song propelled by some surprisingly jubilant 8-bit synths which don’t really do much other than fill time. The first play through the side, listeners will be able to feel a smirk begin to curl around the corners of their mouths as the sounds play in a way that is just awkward, set against the activity for which the other side of the record is intended that it’s kind of comical. After three minutes of synth, Zabrecky begins mentioning names like, “Andrew Jackson Davis,” “The Davenport Brothers” and “The Fox Sisters” without including any kind of context for their mention. Listeners may find themselves beginning to wonder if the mention of these names is the result of those who are named having been those who contributed the most to the kickstarter campaign which yielded the record, as the side plays through.
The B-side of the Seance! With Zabrecky single eventually begins to lose its energy as it progresses and, at the end, Zabrecky is left just muttering disconnected syllables before slowly screeching to a close and the needle lifts from the side. As spoken word pieces go, there’s no question that the B-side of Seance! With Zabrecky leaves a fair bit to be desired – if one chooses to look at it as a typical record – but it doesn’t play badly, if one takes it for a novelty. As a novelty, the record as a whole can actually be thought provoking – if one considers the intentions with which it was made. Unfortunately though, without such consideration and with the possibility of the A-side of the record yielding any kind of valid results up for significant debate, all Seance! With Zabrecky successfully does is illustrate that P.T. Barnum’s most famous turn of phrase is true: there is indeed “a sucker born every minute.” [Bill Adams]
The Seance! With Zabrecky 12” single is out now. Buy it here, directly from In The Red Records.