Blue Water White Death

Blue Water, White Death

Graveface

Nov 03, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Like the shark documentary it's named after, this collaboration between Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg and Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart reveals a frightening menace lurking beneath a placid surface. The dulcet finger-picked acoustic guitar in "Song for the Greater Jihad," for instance, is suddenly severed by what sounds like a vicious power tool. Easy listening, it's not. That's not to say it's inaccessible. Blue Water, White Death sounds more organic than Xiu Xiu and more synthetic than Shearwater, but the music shares both men's melodic and experimental sensibilities.

The opening track, "This is the Scrunchyface of My Dreams," contrasts both singers' empyrean falsettos against ominous drones. It immediately establishes an unsettling mood that lingers throughout the record. On "Grunt Tube," Stewart sounds like a claustrophobe trapped in a cave as single piano notes ring out in sympathy. A gorgeous convergence of hammered dulcimer and harmonium squares off against squalls of electronic noise in "Rendering the Juggalos."

By now, you'll have noticed that the album has rather unusual song titles. The often-indecipherable lyrics are even more abstract. It's anyone's guess as to what "The End of Sex" is about, but Meiburg's choirboy voice sounds as if it's succumbing to the seductive cries of submerged sirens. The tune is infinitely more appealing than the title might suggest.

The constant tension between celestial melody and infernal cacophony creates an unconventional beauty. Blue Water, White Death is an offbeat treasure for adventurous ears. (www.bluewaterwhitedeath.com)

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