Right, I’ve decided that this is not going to be any regular sort of review; not that I probably write those anyway. But this is going to be a bit different because, well, this album is a bit different. I’m not the sort of person who is a band completist. I don’t have to have every last morsel of output that includes rare b-sides, demos and jams. I quite like hearing the finished article and being satisfied with that. Part of the reason for this is because I’m not a musician. When I’m listening to music I’m not generally wondering what pedal the guitarist is using, or whether that’s a Hammond organ or a synth made to sound as such. You get the drift.
That does not mean that I don’t appreciate music that is composed, arranged and played well. After all music, for me, is a matter of emotion and those attributes contribute towards how a piece makes me feel… and where I was in the period around 2008-2012 was somewhat adrift from and new music and following my peers into nostalgia and safe bets. A series of events involving a chance visit to see Wooden Shjips and Hookworms (their second ever gig unbeknownst to me) at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, and a subsequent even more chance conversation with Jim of backseatmafia.com led me into writing about music (Hookworms’ ‘Pearl Mystic‘ album was my first review). After that somehow I got into contact with Dave Cambridge (aka Cardinal Fuzz), who I didn’t know at the time but was also at that Wooden Shjips gig, and who sent me Dead Sea Apes’ ‘Lupus‘ album to review. The rest, as they say, is history.
From the very first ‘ting’ I loved that album… for reasons that I still cannot fully describe. It was a revelation to me and acted as a gateway into whole swathes of experimental music which you may or may not wish to call ‘psych’. ‘Lupus’, then was an important album for me, one of a number at that time which dragged me out of my musical trough and into the dark uplands of what I write about today.
Since then I have continued to follow and write about Dead Sea Apes regularly, not out of any feeling of gratitude or loyalty, rather because every release has somehow managed to take me farther into the realm of experimental psych music (or use whatever term you want). Each release has, for me, been about nuance, atmosphere and emotion; the way that the trio create soundscapes that are anything but passive but demand attention. Each release is, I’m sure, drenched with a breadth of influences and ideas far beyond my pay scale… I’m no musical ‘lifer’ but even I can see how different approaches and genre are carefully folded into the topology of their sound to create something that, frankly, have me saying to myself ‘that’s just perfect’.
‘Recondite’, the album I’m putatively reviewing here, is a collection of tracks and alternative mixes previously released on compilations and such like, and listening to these tracks has caused me to write what you have just read. What this tells me that this is a collection of tracks that are by no means throw away, but a great reflection of the band’s ‘development’ over the previous five or so years. I put ‘development’ like this because Dead Sea Apes haven’t progressed in the way that you might imagine. Their early release ‘Soy Dios‘ arrived fully formed, and since then they’ve been pushing the boundaries in all sorts of different directions, thus far culminating in the release of last year’s ‘Sixth Side of the Pentagon‘ and ‘In The Year 2039‘.
Furthermore this is an apposite time to take stock of the band’s output with the recent announcement that distinctive bassist Nick Harris and Dead Sea Apes were parting company, meaning likely new possibilities and directions for them both. So while what comes next remains to be seen, what has gone before is more than well showcased by the tracks here on ‘Recondite’. A great place to start with the band, and essential for those already in the know.
For a nice track by track assessment of the album check out Heathenmofo here.