Seabear: The Ghost That Carried Us Away

Morr Music continues its move away from atmospheric electronic soundscaping to beguiling pop songcraft with Seabear's The Ghost That Carried Us Away, twelve settings by 24-year-old Reykjavik, Iceland resident Sindri Már Sigfússon. There's certainly no cause for complaint, however, when the folk-tinged results are so enchanting, especially when complemented by Gudbjörg Hlin Gudmundsdóttir's violin playing and vocals. Assembling a band made up of musicians borrowed from Múm, Sigur Rós's live outfit, and Benni Hemm Hemm's stage band in front a of a single microphone in his own small studio, Sigfússon performs his lilting ballads, jigs, and waltzes, with some joyfully basking in the sun and others dimming the lights for moments of quiet reflection.

As the jubilant pop of “Libraries” swells, Sigfússon alternates his low voice with a brightly chirping female chorus, while the unblemished innocence of his music comes to the fore in “I Sing I Swim” (“When the birds are sleeping, that's when the trees sing”). On the softer side, a lovely mix of banjo, glockenspiel, harmonica, and piano lends the lulling “Cat Piano” rustic charm, while Sigfússon's half-whispered vocals provide the melancholy, and “Hands Remember” sounds almost too beautiful when it pairs the violin's cry with his fragile murmur (“Do you remember how the things look when you were young”). Sigfússon's Seabear material justifiably invites comparison to Sufjan Stevens (the breezy closer “Seashell” could easily be mistaken for the latter) as both exude a homespun naturalness and spirit in their folk-pop mini-symphonies that's hard to resist, especially when they're so refreshingly free of irony and cynicism.

August 2007