Seaworthy – Distant Hills Burn Bright (Black Lodge Audio)


A highly refined sense of texture is partly what makes Seaworthy such a striking ensemble. Though their instrumentation is minimal – guitar, quietly crackling noise and piano are the primary components – the subtle, ever-shifting terrain that they create is at once intimate and panoramic. Distant Hills Burn Bright is sparse in both mood and atmosphere, but it lets you in. The guitar sound is melancholy and hesitant, full of gaps, and reminiscent of Mick Turner in his more pastoral moods. The curling refrain that runs through almost all eight tracks is like a sentence that never quite completes itself, yet in affect it is far from abstract: each pause and return, pause and return serves as a reminder that someone is playing an instrument, and that the melody is therefore neither arbitrary nor fixed, but a decision made from moment to moment. Each listen to Distant Hills Burn Bright reinforces this sense of immediacy – as if the listener were sitting in upon the process of the music’s becoming.

This is not to say that Distant Hills Burn Bright is shambolic or necessarily improvisatory – it is quite a carefully sequenced suite. Framed by a brief snatch of noise (Part 1), the instrumental, lost-highway atmosphere is slowly developed through Parts 2-3 with drones and stark piano, before the disc is neatly cleaved in Part 4 through a series of loops. Sonar-like pulses and high-frequency squeaks turn the sonic geography from something idyllic to something otherwordly, before the guitar (and what sounds like a piano accordion) returns, allowing both forms of landscape to bleed into each other. Resolving itself on a stark piano line, Distant Hills Burn Bright is an extremely well-crafted, very beautiful recording.


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emmy likes cats, cooking, zines and anarchism. tea pots, typewriters and vinyl records make her happy.

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