Gareth Hardwick: Of the Sea and Shore
Low Point

From its cover photo to the music itself, Nottingham musician Gareth Hardwick's third album, Of The Sea And Shore, truly does evoke the setting of its title. Inspiration for the project came from visits Hardwick made to remote coastal locations around the UK, and the recording itself took place over a four-month period during the winter of 2009-10. Its two eighteen-minute parts are equally episodic, with each moving through passages of ambient quietude and drone-like shimmer. The sense of geographical evocation emerges immediately when “Of The Sea And Shore Part 1” opens with tremolo shudders that mirror the cyclical movements of the tides. Gradually, however, the guitar patterns become less agitated and mutate into an insistent drone whose crystalline shimmer Hardwick augments with cymbal shadings. After swelling in intensity, the cymbals and the drone both abruptly vanish, clearing the way for a peaceful five-minute coda of guitar figures and chimes.

The second part is the slightly more collage-like of the two, with sections that appear in relatively more rapid succession. Encountered along the way are a reverberant hall of mirrors where guitar patterns swirl in slow motion, a meditative section where the harmonium's dominant voice introduces an Eastern character, and an equally meditative episode of wavering guitar tones that seem to mimic the lulling motions of sea waves. Cymbal rolls return near the end of track two to bring the recording to a close. Described in simplest terms, Of The Sea And Shore features two long-form guitar-based drones that suggest the expanses of sprawling seaside settings. A more precise account would note the degree to which Hardwick enhanced the material's richness by adding a wealth of other sounds and textures to the guitar core, specifically harmonium, cymbals, chimes, dictaphone, and radio.

October 2010