Review of Map In Hand [12k1040]

Lost At Sea (UK)

The addition of Seaworthy to the 12k family marks something of an evolution for the label. Granted, Seaworthy are very 12k in their sound, but possess one discerning quality that sets them aside from the most part of the 12k discography: their “live production”. While minimalism has always been the key for 12k, such luminaries as Sogar, Taylor Deupree and S├ębastien Roux have always tended to reside at the computer-generated end of the spectrum, whereby instruments are employed but digitally manipulated to create sparse, textured tones easy on the ear yet difficult to make sense of. Seaworthy, on the other hand, reign in a live ambience, and indeed it plays a significant role in their appeal.

Seaworthy – a three-piece from Sydney, Australia – construct their light drones from guitar swells, feedback, and the accidental hums and flickers of noise part and parcel of the recording process. This is very simple music, and the transparent production makes it easy to absorb and pick apart. Instead of cluttering the pieces up with unessential sounds that would detract from the meaning of each song, Seaworthy allow their gentle purrs to resonate freely and drift as and when the wind takes them. They utilize the studio room tones, which serve as a reminder that Seaworthy are an interacting band, bouncing ideas off of one another and capturing the best bits.

The tracks are named “Map in Hand Pt. 1”, et cetera, and the album is book-ended with “Dusk, 30th September 2005” and “Dawn, 2nd October 2005”, with a couple of prologues and epilogues thrown in to make things interesting. Part one and its prologue set the scene for Map in Hand – warm, inviting drones, twisting randomly and curiously. In contrast, parts two and four are more straightforward guitar tracks, with the instruments played more conventionally, but without upsetting the disc’s placid radiance.

Despite Map in Hand‘s temperate suitability, Seaworthy seem to stand out. Electronica it certainly isn’t. Post-rock? Perhaps. They seem to have everything in common with 12k, yet everything about them makes them distinctive from everything the label has put out, which makes the release of Map in Hand a progressive prospect for both label and band. For blurred, fuzzy, calming tones, look no further than Seaworthy.

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