Shifts is a brilliant work of art that encapsulates a relationship
between nature and humanity unlike any other record I have ever heard. With its beautiful droning synths intertwined
beneath minimal acoustic guitar playing and delicate vocals, Sea Glass create this beautiful, almost autumnal sounding experimental-folk record worth listening to. The band, consisting of Matt Ashton, Melinda Bronstein (both from the drone pop group The Leaf Library,) and Mike Cranny (from the dream pop band Firestations) create the most bone chilling, darkly beautiful music that I have heard in quite some time on this new album. There are so many delicate musical moments that are worth your time on this record, as the band layers quite minimal noises in complex, astounding ways.
First impressions aren’t always everything, but how can you not fall in love instantly with the first track off this album, ‘Splicing Shadows?’ It’s dark and brooding undertones combined with absolutely beautiful overall mixing make this such a luscious, yet uneasy start to an album that will leave any listener somewhat intrigued. The band does so much with so little throughout the album and most of these songs really follow the same exact formula, but it never gets dull, because there is so much to discover throughout this album. A lot of the tracks do have this childlike, primitive quality to them, but I feel as if they play a certain purpose to the course of the album. It feels so stripped back, yet we get forward moving ideas throughout that drive us to feel a closer connection to this album.
There seems to be a connection that I grasped onto between feeling as if this album has something to do with the relationship between humankind and nature, and I think that all comes down to the lyrical content throughout the album. We get a lot of existential questions throughout songs on this album such as on the track ‘How Can I Call You,’ which definitely sounds like a human conversation, but there is so much pointing towards it being something natural. The song is rooted in questions, and these questions get more and more intense as the song goes on. Add that on top of background noise we get acting as our soundscape on the track, by way of a sound that is reminiscent to that of crickets chirping. I think that the dual purpose all of these tracks serve on this album is just a brilliant way to get listeners thinking about these songs in a different way upon each listen.
This album uses repetition to its advantage most of the time, but some of the time this repetition can get a wee bit tedious for a traditional listener. I think that this album can feel like a bit of a drag for some listeners to get through as the lyrical delivery can get a little bit dragged out at times, and some of the songs don’t go in an exact direction at times, they kind of stay in one lane and get to it, whereas this group is more than capable of taking this sound in an even more highly experimental direction. They absolutely do not have to do that, but I think it could be interesting to see where this dark take on this more experimental-tinged folk music can go, because right now Sea Glass seems to still be wrestling with that question as well on this album. I am sure many people will see what lane they take their sophomore album, if they so choose to keep playing with these ideas.
Shifts works as a beautiful, calming listening experience with enough of an understanding of what it is to take unique twists within the record, but some of these twists aren’t entirely realized by the band. There are so many great, absolutely bone chilling moments on this album to really excite just about anyone who listens to it. I would highly recommend this album to just about anyone who enjoys eerie and beautiful experiences, along with the obvious fans of avant-folk or just electronic leaning folk music in general, as this record is a real standout within the genre this year.
Favorite Tracks:Spring Chant, Splicing Shadows, An Ending
Least Favorite Tracks: Give Up, How Can I Be You
Listen to the track ‘Spring Chant’ by Sea Glass below: