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

Various Artists: Golden State Psychedelia (Big Beat/Border)

Various Artists: Golden State Psychedelia (Big Beat/Border)

The Golden State of the title refers to a top flight but largely obscure Bay Area studio run by the little known Leo De Gar Kulka and the various artists could rightly be described as equally... > Read more

Grayson Gilmour: No Constellation (Flying Nun)

Grayson Gilmour: No Constellation (Flying Nun)

We shouldn't feel too sorry for the profoundly talented Grayson Gilmour -- but I do sympathise with him at the moment: being the first act signed to the resurrected Flying Nun label means that has... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MUSIC MANAGERS AWARDS (2016): And the envelope, please

MUSIC MANAGERS AWARDS (2016): And the envelope, please

In the past two decades a very clear music business has emerged in New Zealand. Being a musician is a viable career option these days – it's still going to be struggle however –... > Read more

EPs by Yasmin Brown

EPs by Yasmin Brown

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Yasmin Brown. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more