20 September, 2020

Sea Glass – Shifts

Sea Glass dropped their debut album Shifts via the reliable WIAIWYA label a couple of weeks ago. They’re a new band featuring the Leaf Library’s Matt Ashton and Melinda Bronstein.

Stripping down the band members has naturally led to a far more minimal sound.

Opening with Bronstein’s haunting panned backing vocals, on “Splicing Shadows” they start as they mean to go on. The track subtly builds up a gorgeously woven blanket of vocals atop a soft guitar accompaniment. The orchestration of the piece echoing Serafina Steer.
I’ve Been Here has a Young Marble Giants quality. The bassline provides momentum, the absence of drums noticeable. Delicate delayed guitar chords revolve underneath while Bronstein harmonises with herself. The instruments drop out and join again in a different order to shift the dynamics while the harmonies build further.

It would be intriguing to see how they approach performing this live. That is if we ever get the opportunity.

The most obvious reference point throughout is the much missed Birmingham dream avant pop duo Broadcast. Of course, Sea Glass’s approach is more earthy and folksy. The glimmering glassy atmospherics of How Can I Be You are dreamy. The warm vocal harmonies and melody remind us of Trish Keenan at times.

Repetition is a frequently used tool. The vocals and twinkling acoustics of Come to the Door, Night Tide and Silken Tide are hypnotic. The undulating synth and dual vocals from both band members on Night Tide create a warm cadence, complimented by Frere Jacques glockenspiel. Singing in a round is an oft used method that really works for Sea Glass.

The piano led Berth has a playful atmosphere like something from Animal Collective’s ‘Prospect Hummer’ EP.
There is an absolute minimalism, despite the space Sea Glass create. A slightly distorted and expansive woodwind synth is the only accompaniment to the haunting Spring Chant.
Closer Give Up glides and glistens, dreamlike, towards a sudden a cappella ending deserving of a locked groove.

Shifts is a simple, subtle exercise in minimalist repetition and harmony that is quiet, unassuming and stunning for that. It’s a perfect album to drift off to and one that I would happily leave on repeat. The sense of calm it exudes is a great tonic for the constant anxiety we face in this absolute clusterfuck of an existence.

You may enjoy this if you like: Serafina Steer, Broadcast, The Silver Field, Blanket

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