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WPGM Recommends: Sea Offs – What’s The Point? (Album Review)

Sea Offs Album Review
The catch with the music industry today is the amount of artists that remain closed away from the mainstream stage. Be it on behalf of the artists’ lack of garnered confidence to reach out, or just due to the presence of the music seeping through the cracks of the ‘cultured’ eye, and getting lost against the tides of the media.

Either way, there are a plethora of undiscovered, unrecognised, or just even less known creators out there, who would surely deserve their time in the spotlight. And for Sea Offs, I believe, this time couldn’t come sooner. The small, dream-folk band consists of Olivia Price and Rashmit Arora.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Sea Offs recorded their debut single, “Colliding”, two years ago, under the moniker of Tapestries. This single featured a very established sound, something that could really set the tone for their work to come. Pretty much epitome of the typical folk genre, at least at the time, this record would have delighted the right ears, and I’m sure it has, to those who have heard it.

Their first extended play, Sea The Blind, debuted in the early months of this year, on February 26. The four track record explores the world we find ourselves in, and the interactions with the people we can find there. This was the first real sign of them coming into their own, I believe.

The small record features some beautiful work, that sounds like it pays homage to the earlier days of Mt. Wolf, with an exclusive take on the atmosphere, ambience, timing, and breathy, reverberated vocals that made Mt. Wolf themselves so beloved. However, they did so in their own way, and the record is a paradigm of Sea Offs being able to hold their own.

In particular, the track “Shallow Waters” features some wonderful vocalisations by the pair, with Olivia’s seemingly natural vibrato acting as a pleasant honorarium, and the third track, “Bullets”, contains some beautiful stage setting and lyrical context.

It is their latest release, however, that will, hopefully, really start turning heads. What’s The Point? was released the last day of March this year, and features some of their best work to date. Their first bona fide album, the record consists of eight tracks, all as rich, textured and established as the last.

Although personally, it still feels as if the band are trying to find the sound they want, it nevertheless demonstrates their natural talent and flow, as they are able to switch up their sounds so fluidly and without any awkwardness. Acts like this, I feel, really bring out the true artistry of the band.

What’s The Point? has taken a more ‘direct’ approach as opposed to the dreamy, atmospheric sounds of their previous body of work. This makes it no less significant, or dreary however, and, if anything, will act as a solid foothold for their no doubt future recognition. What’s The Point? really is a very well done piece of art.

The record starts very strongly with the song, “Runaway”. Beginning with some really beautiful reverberated layers of guitar and soft, compressed bass drum hits that add to the melancholic feel of the melodies the band demonstrate. Soft rolls fill the space as another layer of guitar work takes the stage, establishing the mood of the track right away, acting as a build for which Olivia to deliver the lines of the track name, with a haunting coldness.

Slow, numbed crashes and the scratching of fret slides build into a delicately woven climax, that fills the track with beautifully thought out percussive hits, cymbal crashes, and pads that flitter between Olivia’s melodic vocals. Rashmit murmurs softly under Olivia during the latter half, which provides a wonderfully composed section, with Olivia’s vocals flattering the delicate guitars toward the end.

“Occhiolism” is the next track, and continues in the same vein as the last. Solid, clear guitars and soft percussion back up Olivia’s dreamy vocals, until the two minute mark, wherein you realize the track’s build up has been masterfully in place since the beginning, only reliant on Olivia’s vocals to shy away from the rising drums.

What ensues is an amalgamation of heavy guitar chords, Olivia’s chilling harmonisations and vocals, and excellent drum patterns that fill themselves with haunting ghost notes and triplet fills, while still retaining the delicate hat pattern that ensues throughout, that one can’t help but move to. I believe this is one of the stronger tracks on the record, as it really demonstrates the band’s versatility, and physical abilities.

“Strawberry” takes a more upbeat approach, with very distinct drum patterns accompanying the reverb of the gliding bass and melodies of the guitar. Olivia’s vocals come in not long after, completing the soundscape. As she intensifies, the music moves with her flawlessly, until it reaches its peak, about two minutes in, where the guitars drown themselves in heavy reverb and take centre stage with Olivia.

This is a beautiful arrangement, and doesn’t last long enough, in my opinion. The track ends in a masterfully transitioned half time piece that drips with soul and feeling.

Rashmit takes the lead in the next track, “A Leap Too Tall”, which conjures a slow, brooding fire to mind. The track itself is very well paced, and acts as a nice contrast against “Strawberry”. As Rashmit sings, Olivia backs him delicately, seemingly cautious.

The track progress, and a light usage of autotune is used stylistically, carving the faint percussion and slow guitar work into a dreamy, faint soundscape befitting of a crackling fire at dusk in the woods. It is the latter half of the track, where it establishes itself, however.

Through a thin composition of fresh, wishful xylophone chimes, soft claps, crashes and brilliant drum fills, soulful violin work and faint pads, the track leaves one feeling a pleasant warmth, akin to the feeling of fulfilment. It is very special.

It is a refreshing change to see bands take the time to compose and arrange their music so beautifully, that it warrants no need for a singer. “Avenoir” is one such track. With Olivia or Rashmit’s vocals nowhere present in the short, minute long piece, they let the music itself speak.

Again utilizing glass-like layers of guitar and percussion, and a recording of a sheet of paper being turned to create a textured piece of folly, Sea Offs establish the tone of the track right out of the gate. A comprised of horn and what appears to be a tuba build on the foundations of the track, creating a soft ambience, and putting to good use the harmony of the sounds well.

The track progresses slowly, but never loses any of its values it builds on. I’d bet it won’t be long before someone uploads an hour long edit of this, really.

The use of sampling is a very common art in composing music. However, it can be quite hard to find it used in such a way as Sea Offs in the next track, “Joshua”. It begins with the recording, processed slightly, it sounds like, to embody the visions the song wishes to show. It is used in such a way that provides a real flattery to the music itself, and in turn, establishes the track as really quite special, and one of the most creative uses of sampling I have found.

Olivia reprises her voice in the track, as does the haunting guitar riffs, atmospheric pads, and layered vocals. The sample continues just before the song gets into itself, setting the stage for a wave of emotion and soul that is very welcoming and retains a strange warmth.

Over the faint chiming pads, flowing drums and dream-like saxophone, Olivia harmonizes with the flow of the track, in perfect form. The track finishes with the sample again, cutting off the melodies and allowing a second a silence.

“Unfound” takes a different take on things, at least in terms of building its sound. It begins with Rashmit’s voice, and some wide, free flowing pads that really build the atmosphere I feel they were trying to retain in this track. A reverberated guitar comes in before Olivia’s vocals take over, shifting the track into a slow, earthly rise.

Against her harmonies, the track flows, until Olivia builds the soft lead into the rhythmic drumming, until it finds its pattern, just as Olivia finds hers. This works well. It provides the listener with a sense of stability that they can draw from when the track takes another step up, into a cascade of down sweeping drums, and layered guitar.

The last track on the record is “The Pining”. This track begins with the faint warmth of vinyl crackle, until setting its tone with heavy, broody guitars and slow drumming. Olivia’s vocals seemed to carry a lighter weight on this track, retaining a kind softness that she seemed to form in their previous EP. This works really well, and floats between the drums.

She harmonises about two minutes in, which is simply my favourite part of the whole record. It is done wonderfully, and really shows the compositions beauty. This track in particular reminds me of Mt. Wolf, whom I’d take a chance on betting Sea Offs consider them one of their inspirations. Their sound however, is much their own, and one I hope they nurture and establish over their time.

As a whole, Sea Offs’ What’s The Point? is a very well built album, that seems to focus on the balance between the grace of ambience, and the endearing qualities of establishing a frontal sound. They seem to have let themselves go at it on this record, and it has paid off.

Possessing some unbridled abilities, a great sense of composition and arrangement, and a beautiful penchant for understanding atmosphere and timing, I feel it won’t be long before Sea Offs really start gaining the amount of love they really do deserve. I personally feel this lies in tracks as well established as “The Pining”, which is, I feel at least, where their soul truly lies, and where their sound will grow.

All in all, a wonderfully solid piece of music from some truly creative artists, that deserve all the attention I hope it garners. Sea Offs’ What’s The Point? EP can be purchased here and can be heard on Bandcamp below.

Also visit their Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram and Soundcloud pages to keep tabs on Sea Offs.

Words by James Hailey

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