If there are lines of demarcation between what we conceive of when it comes to post-metal and psychedelic rock, then I completely side with Somali Yacht Club, who prefers to blur the lines until it doesn’t matter. On The Sea, the Ukraine trio continue their path of washing away genre and creating gauzy, limber music that stretches and weaves in whatever direction it fancies.
“Sinewy” is a hard vibe to master, and one it took the band to slip into as well. Sandsongs, their 2011 demo/EP is the sound of a band finding its connections, working through just how to move through each block of sound. By the time they reached their proper debut, 2014’s The Sun they learned it well: opening track “Loom” feels like the work of a band completely at ease with themselves, content to find a trail and follow it to an unknown yet inevitable conclusion. Each track rises up out of some psychedelic smoke to either crunch down in waves of power chords or slide between lines of melody. This is music to drift away to, to drive and drift in, letting passages float up and sink into your consciousness, such as the progressive movement in “Sightwaster” or the way the bass twists in the latter half of “Signals” – you keep listening and keep finding nuances that didn’t reveal themselves before.
It may have taken another three and a half years, but follow-up The Sea not only keeps the continuity in check, but proves to be even more insinuating in its composition. “Vero” ebbs and flows over a constant refrain of “sinking again I’m sinking again
alone in water void” If anything, the music feels larger now, the sound these three make encompassing a wider spectrum. There’s a swagger to “Blood Leave a Trail” that wasn’t there previously, and the vocals from guitarist Mez feel perfectly in place, floating above and below the rhythm pulsating from drummer Lesyk and bassist Artur. Halfway through the track the band suddenly plunges into an almost jazz interlude and it all works organically, flowing from soft solos back to the main theme. Both “Hydrophobia” and “84 Days” use the template of starting softly (“Hydrophobia” almost feels like a segue or interlude) before slowly growing in intensity to create some lush heavy moments. And closer “Crows” takes a doom approach to the material, weighty and despairing as the lyrics close the story on time, age, and the passing of days. It broods on life in the best possible way.
Repeated listens of The Sea have continued to yield new secrets to me. The interplay between Somali Yacht Club have borne strange and interesting fruit, and having something so lush and interesting and inviting this early in the year is a sure sign of a bountiful year in music.