'State of Sea': debut EP 'Illusions'
There's been somewhat of a Danish theme to our features this week, with an introduction to 'Fred Seul', and re-acquainting ourselves with 'Ghost of Belle Starr', and we'll continue with a band who are at least partially Danish, and who include a member who should be no stranger to regular readers. 'State of Sea' are a 3 piece band containing the singer songwriter Anna Scharling, who we've written about a couple of times, and she's joined in this project by 2 musicians / songwriters with vast experience, 'James Craft' and 'Anna Roemer', and their new release is a finely judged EP, which has a softness and a vivid eloquence which I think contrasts well with our other Danish features this week - something for everyone I hope.
Now it's true to say that 'Illusions' has taken me a while to get to like, so some patience is needed here, but of course that shouldn't be a surprise - even in their name 'State of Sea', the band are conjuring obvious images, and that is reflected in the ambient minimalist soundscapes which sit underneath the vocals. And I've found that this is music that you need to immerse yourself in (erm... no pun intended), rather than, as I first did, listen whilst driving and find that the whole thing just washed right over me (OK, i meant it that time...). It's also important to know that the music was inspired by Edward Snowden's trip when he 'escaped' to Russia, because that's reflected in all the tracks.
I'll let you discover the music for yourselves rather than an overly detailed track by track review, but I'll highlight a few points that have captured my imagination. Opening track 'Illusion' does a really great job in creating vivid images of the sea and wind through the percussion, whilst 'Eyes Wide Open' has the most distinct melody, and it's the clever vocal harmonies which really make the track. For me though 'In a Hotel Room in Moscow' remains the highlight, I love the way the strings and wind instruments create an intensity that builds throughout the track, with the repeated phrase, 'I'm awake, awake, awake' reaching a climax at the end. 'Young' takes more listening, but listen to the lovely subtle contributions from Cello and Oboe, whilst again it's the vocal harmonies that capture the track. And 'State of Sea' conclude with 'Illusion I', where the original melodic theme from the 1st track is replayed and we're treated (and it is a treat...) to the most extraordinarily intense crescendo of strings - it's an excellent conclusion.
Over the last couple of weeks I've really started to enjoy this EP simply for it's musicality, with the soft vocals, lovely harmonies and the vivid effects of the accompanying instruments. For those of you who like playlists there are still a couple of songs, 'Eyes Wide Open' and 'In a Hotel Room in Moscow' that I think stand out as 'individual' tracks'. But actually the strength of 'Illusions' is that it really does paint a picture of someone travelling to Russia, and as such it's a really clever piece of songwriting - please be patient and give it a go...