Swallowing The Seas are a new band drifting in and out of London venues such as the Enterprise in Chalk Farm. I saw them there on Tuesday 8/12/09 and liked it so much I thought I’d write a little review of their gig.
Their music is very much as they describe it; ambient, down-tempo shoegaze. Its extremely cinematic but in a different way to other bands that I have written about so far. Their sound is very distinct, like a cross between ‘post-rock’ and shoegaze. They have the ethereality and ambience of shoegaze but with the scope and instrumentation of ‘post-rock’- a very exciting prospect indeed!
I find their music quite confusing (in a good way) because they somehow manage to convey completely different emotions at the same time. Its hard to explain, but during most of the set I was unsure whether the music was bleak and gloomy, or simply hopeful! The lead guitar parts are mostly arpeggiated chords which give the songs an air of perseverance (as opposed to depressing idleness) and Leni White, the violinist/vocalist’s angelic soprano voice gives the music its fantasy, but the nature of the chords and the arrangements come across as bleak. On top of that, the vocal harmonies between Leni and Beanie B. (lead guitar/vocals) sound really nice, but are darkly textured with reverb and delay- the lyrics also seem to go from dreary imagery to hope-filled assertions…. I haven’t been able to get over the unsettled feeling I got from the show yet, but maybe I shouldn’t..
Moving on, I thought the set progressed well, but I think a bigger range in dynamics would have helped to suck the audience in. With music like this that presents itself as a sort of ‘experience’ for the audience, its important to explore every corner of the soundscape you’re cultivating, i.e. breakdown to almost nothing, and play as aggressively as possible- where its appropriate of course.
Overall, the show was great and definitely worth seeing, and I recommend catching them live to all of you who enjoy thought-provoking music- especially the kind that seems like it would be perfectly at home in a bipolar-deaf-blind person’s head!
Catch them LIVE @ the Road Trip Bar on Tuesday 15th Dec, or @ Proud Galleries on the 16th Feb 2010!