Review of 1897 [12k1053]

Mess + Noise (AU)

Musicians accustomed to recording in an intimate home environment often make a fuss when shifting to a “real” recording studio. Enter stage right Cameron Webb of Seaworthy. On his third full-length record, Webb has foregone the studio entirely, moving straight into a cavernous former artillery depot. It’d be a pretty hairy environment to record lonesome in, especially if you’re doing it on a near daily basis for three months, and the change of scene has moulded Webb’s trademark calm into unsettling new shapes.

Still, Webb isn’t one to make a fuss, and this is very much a Seaworthy album in the vein of 2005’s Map In Hand. Only this time Webb’s guitar playing is more bereft and mournful, the drones more barren, and the smoky tonal emanations wistful like a marooned apparition. The ghosts of routines past – fleeting intangible histories teased out by isolation in a once frequently inhabited environment – bleed into these 12 pieces with the crusted vividness of a crumbling reel-to-reel. When Webb lets the environment directly affect his compositions – as on most of the “Installation” tracks – we feel the corners of the rooms, the rust of the conveyor tracks and the crumbling of the cement walls. Soft tones and chiming guitar notes billow about like feathers from a pricked pillow.

When Webb picks up his guitar and plays in a relatively conventional way, it sounds like a tribute. There are note combinations here that bring Map in Hand to mind, but Webb is a player so possessed by his mood and surroundings that these slight, tuneful pieces can only be translated effectively by the heart; in the language they were created. – by Shaun Prescott

View Release