TREETOPS "When I Was Younger" (Arbor)

For a double C10 release on his own label, Mike Pollard's alter ego works with a grey palette of dry groans, shuddering low-stringed resonance and melancholy Casio brooding to create some of the eeriest grainy soundscapes heard in recent memory. Inspired by a lingering fall, the four sides of "When I Was Younger" are reminiscent of those November days that seem more dismal than the oncoming winter. They also share a distant feel; the second side of tape one, "Pure Grey" resembles a chanting chorus of Buddhist monks as heard echoing down a long stone corridor. During "Youth" and "Reconsider," one can imagine listening to an obscure Lynchian soundtrack off an old television set, struck by an uneasy combination of beauty and foreboding. The chilling effect is downright psychosomatic, although having no heat in mid December can help (or more appropriately, hurt). Pollard's artwork is thoughtfully considered, concentrating on nature imagery in a vein similar to Prurient releases from the past. The cover photograph bears an odd symbolism; trees in the background which haven't shed their leaves, a row of circles resembling metal plates suspended in air, a line of triangles which are either prayer flags or a long forgotten decoration from summer days. Snap this up by all means, but watch for the steam on your breath.