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The Sea Nymphs – On The Dry Land

The Alphabet Business Concern

Sea Nymphs - On The Dry LandThe first taste of this album (as you’d expect) is a salty one, buffered by a sea breeze, Sarah Smith‘s eerie delivery peeking through spidery fingerings of instrumentation. It’s a short atmospheric swell that ignites an introspective shiver, a curiosity that’s quickly burnished in light and airy intoxications.A Barrett-esque prism spiked in a school assembly-like shudderation of vocal. A magpied sense of enchantment dwells throughout this fifteen-track offering, toning down the usual Cardiacs bruised enthusiasms into a mischievous magic all of its own.

A slip-slanted verve that waits until the third track to unleash Tim Smith‘s distinctive vocal tilt, an awesomely stripped-back confessional accompanied by a sparse flutters of acoustika and spiny keyboards. A pristine shiver that the strangely festive burn of “Sea Snake Beware” overtakes in duetting off-kilterings. An Aled Jones-esque Sarah and William D Drake combo that beams you straight into a wonky sixteenth century whirl of powered faces and corseted curtsy. A delight that peppers your mind in a multitude of lullabied lightbulbs, a rarefied pleasure giving birth to some nifty instrumental numbers. The squeeze box rub and salty spirals of “Mirmaids Purse”; and the brief slapstick of “Anchors Away” that breathes like a silent movie re-imagining.

But it really works best when it’s battering you over the head with its bladder on a stick um-pah-pahs, clambering over your expectations in taper-torn tiptoes, throwing you down its multi-harmonic worm holes. A certain eccentricity that “The Black Blooded Clam” ups the ante of in a percussive clatter of cutlery drawers, and Morris dancing thigh slap. A magical concoction that holds light for my personal favourite – “The Sea Ritual”, a George Darley poem set alight in splashy wellies and slippery saxophonics serenaded by the odd raven call skipping its pointy-hatted piano refrains. On The Dry Land is a joy that ends all too soon on the classical whimsy of “Wanky”.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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