Shearwater: The Golden Archipelago (Matador)

 |   |  1 min read

Shearwater: God Made Me
Shearwater: The Golden Archipelago (Matador)

The problem as I see it with this sonically fascinating and musically dramatic album is that it lacks a lyric sheet and the poetic words are frequently difficult to distinguish because singer Jonathan Meiburg's vocals are often buried behind those odd instrumentations, or sung in soft high Anglofolk voice which is hard to decipher.

Because of that, I defy anyone coming to this cold to recognise that it is a conceptual piece (the final in their trilogy -- or as the promo sheet has it "the third panel of a triptych"!) about environmental and human impacts on islands.

Gee, who knew those were exiled people from Bikini Atoll whose chant opens this? Or that it introduces a piece about an air raid on an island garrison?

Meiburg (of Austin's Okkervil River) is apparently some kind of ornithological researcher and has camped on remote islands, and so there is no doubting his sincerity. Nor his musical vision because some of this is widescreen and blurs the line between folk and brittle rock-meets-contemporary classical. But I do question his communication skills.

This is dramatic and dynamic music delivered at times with high passion.

But in the absence of the background information my guess is that its (probably) imporant message will go right past you.

Still, it is a beautiful fold-out cover photo -- maybe it would have been a shame to clutter it up with relevant words?

Apparently "the first 10,000 CDs come packaged with a 50-page perfect-bound book of dossier of records, photos, regulations, and images on islands, displaced peoples, immigration records and more". So I guess 10,000 people will know what this is all about. And if they each tell a friend, and they tell another friend . . .

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Eden Mulholland: Music for Dance (Isaac)

Eden Mulholland: Music for Dance (Isaac)

Probably this shouldn't work. Music for dance pieces have to be special to exist without the moving images -- and yet in theory they should be able to do exactly that. These do. Eden... > Read more

Department of Eagles: Archive 2003 - 2006 (Bella Union)

Department of Eagles: Archive 2003 - 2006 (Bella Union)

Department of Eagles became the vehicle for Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus to get their staccato sonic'n'sample experiments and increasingly dreamy pop into the wider world from their... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Steve Kuhn Trio: Wisteria (ECM/Ode)

Steve Kuhn Trio: Wisteria (ECM/Ode)

Elegance in piano playing is usually the description reserved for the exclusive use of reviewers about Bill Evans, but here Steve Kuhn makes a strong claim on thoughtful pieces such as the title... > Read more

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Polish trumpeter Stanko has been introduced previously at Elsewhere on the ocassion of his excellent Lontano album. Here with yet another line-up he essays some slightly sombre territory (The... > Read more