Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Boats

The music on the debut album by The Boats was written by The Sea, hence the title “Songs by The Sea”. Clever huh? The faces behind the project have a history of performing in many bands, Hood and The Remote Viewer being but two fine examples. There’s Craig and Andrew delicately weaving together these exceptionally moving pieces, while elaine sings along in a fluttering, beautifully broken manner. Their music takes in numerous instruments, from dusty sweeping drums to ageing accordions, from sterling vintage piano to warm padding bass, from tapped windblown bells to unconsciously puffed melodica. Pan over to the other side of the studio and you discover old bits of malfunctioning electronic machinery, drum-machines that don’t quite work as they should, banks of amnesiac samplers trying to regain their memories, mixers that have started to confuse left with right. Songs by The Sea captures that ageless essence of atmosphere and heartbreak, nostalgia and inspiration, the sound of slowly fading memory seeping into and confusing itself with a multicoloured subconscious. This is music in the finest, unspoken tradition of lonely seafaring, written from the furthest depths of the ocean, with whatever instruments just happen to lie around on deck.

We Made It For You' by The Boats is undoubtedly one of the albums of 2005. Released on, and featuring members of The Remote Viewer (and Hood) curated Moteer label, 'We Made It For You' is an absolute delight from start to finish, possessing a gentle charm that quietly instils itself deep within your core. Made up of skeletal fragments (dusty piano through to scuttling electronica), The Boats then allow the various elements to grow incrementally until you're waist deep without having noticed you'd even got your feet wet. With each track a dedication, songs such as 'Sarah Alice' and 'Darren' could easily have taken on the guise of eves-dropping a private conversation and it is to The Boats formidable credit that instead you feel as though you're amongst friends. Lacking the vocal focus of 'Songs By The Sea' allows the gently ebbing loveliness of 'Sarah Alice' and 'Chris Elaine and Lucy' to become expansive well beyond their limited foundations. Flecked with Jen Jelinek, flirting with Satie, Michael Nyman and Ryuichi Sakamoto, 'We Made It For You' is an album you'll want to fully submerge in again and again.

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