Last Days: Sea

Last Days' Sea is the perfect soundtrack to that late-night hour when the crimson sky slowly fades into total darkness. Elegiac, introspective, and hypnotic, Graham Richardson's melancholy music represents a departure of sorts for n5MD whose releases are rarely so uniformly quiet and reflective. The Edinburgh, Scotland-based producer assembles his ‘lo-fi' material using digital means but camouflages the music's electronic character by purposefully degrading it. The vignette “Saltwater,” for example, literally sounds as if it's originating from beneath the water's surface.

Put simply, this is a collection filled with beautiful moments, like the guitars that moan through the meditative “Two Steps Back,” the glockenspiel chime that illuminates “Mountains,” and the delicate piano melody in “The Safest Place” that's so blurred and out-of-focus, it suggests a long-suppressed melody that unexpectedly returns to consciousness. Though its title portends otherwise, “Fear” turns out to be the most uplifting moment on the record, an uptempo song of gracefully mounting euphoria that turns its face towards the new day's sun with joyous expectation. Apparently, Sea's ‘escape' theme is intimated by song titles that reference a disillusioned soul who flees society on a boat, gets lost, and is ultimately rescued. Such details are frankly incidental, however, as Last Days' instrumental material makes its case strongly in the absence of such background info. Sea is a long, drawn-out, and deeply affecting sigh that should strongly appeal to fans of Eluvium and Deaf Center.

November 2006