Seaworthy might just be Sydney’s top purveyors of polite music. When the trio aren’t making tunes to set your boat gently (post)rocking by the pier, they’re dabbling in considered drones, looped swells, and other such textural delights. Indeed, the tranquility of this outfit is hard matched, the stuff of siesta dreams. Serrata, on the other hand, is a fine example of why collaborations between unfamiliar artists and labels remain important in the dot-comatose world of rampant, Myspaced-out self-promo: labels lend a healthy chunk of context to a project, as much for the artist as for the listener. Great labels stimulate and provoke artists to branch out and try new things.
Some credit may thus be due to Campbell Kneale’s Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label, then, for nudging Seaworthy toward harsher boroughs. Contrary to their usual penchant for short sonic vignettes of supreme pleasance and the like, Serrata sees the group weaving a single, 38 minute piece that’s built around a guitar string which drones in a sharper manner than their usual fare. It’s the knotted tones that catch the ear, bubbling around and flirting with the drone, seemingly arising from and returning to its consistency. There are sounds which are probably effected guitars, but the benefit of the long, single-piece format is that instruments lose their significance as slow shifts in texture and timbre direct the mind elsewhere.
Serrata, though boasting a harsher edge, is still polite music – but it has the sonic character and slow metamorphosis that will lend itself to avant-gardists perhaps more than other more melodic Seaworthy releases. And though the cover this time was out of guitarist (and part-time cd cover craftsman) Cameron Webb’s hands, the CD-R nonetheless comes packaged in a fine looking wallpaper sleeve – a nice touch from a band who evidently pride themselves on the fine art of packaging.
It works better at some times than others, but generally the shift in sound and composition feels comfortable, and the texture bright and enveloping; one suspects that with future releases of this nature, Seaworthy will truly wrangle the minimal influences at play. In the meantime, Serrata will make for a fine soundtrack as summer breaks upon our hemisphere; the ferns curling and uncurling, birds softly chattering, and the rustle of wind blowing through treetops as life hums and whirrs along beneath it all.