Saturday, January 24, 2015

Band: The Boats

Band: The Boats
Album: Perennial Love (Extended EP)
Label: Self Released
Year: 2006

01. Little Black Rays Of Hope
02. The Sea Is In The Boat
03. Strawberry
04. Perennial Love
05. Cold Ark
06. Asunder (Medley Of Studio Demos)
07. Los Musicos Perdidos (Studio Demo)
08. Little Black Rays Of Hope (live at Museum - 24/05/2004)

Band: The Boats
Album: Los Musicos Perdidos
Label: Self Released
Year: 2007

01. Warmth From A Window
02. 2 AM
03. The Sea Is In The Boat
04. Los Musicos Perdidos
05. Strawberry
06. Little Black Rays Of Hope
07. Alone In Us
08. Asylum

Band: The Boats
Album: Segundo (Bonus Edition)
Label: Self Released
Year: 2015

1. Trash Can Willy (Part 1)
2. Seize The Stars And Turn Them Into Cinders
3. There's Not A Fire That Can Warm Us
4. The Last Man On Earth
5. Hammer Down Your Gentle Sharks
6. Cold Ark Revisited
7. Trash Can Willy (Part 2)
8. The Astronaut (Bonus Track)
9. Tierra Del Fuego (Bonus Track)
10. I Remember....An Eon Ago (Bonus Track)
11. The Merchant (Bonus Track)
12. Flotsam (Bonus Track)

The Boats are an atmospheric, dynamic and stunning instrumental experience. The trio formed in early 2003 and quickly developed their own unique sound; combining vintage guitars, drums, piano and bass to create sonic sketches and soundscapes.

Perennial Love was originally a five track EP consisting of a few pre-album tracks and two live rehearsal tracks recorded in May 2006. Released as a short run 3" CD, it was a chance to promote the band again and prepare listeners for what was to come from the album - Los Musicos Perdidos. This digital version is also bundled with a very rare promo EP 'Live & Rare' (2004), which consists of studio demos and a live performance at Museum, Melbourne, in June 2004. Perennial Love (Extended EP) is a look at The Boats when the band formed, and were starting out and finding their sound.

"I often believe that there is an accompanying geography to any given piece of music, whether apparent on the surface or buried deep in the psyche of the work. On The Boats’ Los Musicos Perdidos, the geography is striking. Reverb and tremolo heavy, yet crisp guitars and soft-brushed snares illuminate sagebrush covered flatlands and jutting plateaus defined by drenching, unrelenting sun. The curiosity here is that the geography of Los Musicos Perdidos is most readily identifiable as American, at least the West and Southwest. However, The Boats hail from Melbourne, Australia. Having never been to Australia, I can only imagine that there are similar landscapes with which to relate their sound to. On "The Sea is in The Boat," guitars softly duel as a pair of gunslingers reluctant to draw first. Instead, they dance awhile, awaiting the other’s move with light cymbal work as spurs underfoot. There is hope in their tone, tinged only by the pragmatic knowledge that an end must come. The slow, rising horns of "Little Black Rays Of Hope" immediately call to mind Ennio Morricone and the undying butt of a cigarillo cornered in the thin lips of a lone drifter. Then there are the slow clacking castanets and shakers of "Strawberry," a song that is undeniably the soundtrack to a tracker hunting down a fugitive. Violin slinks along the ground like a rattler idly passing the hooves of the tracker’s horse, and when he spots his target, the tempo surges as the chase is on.

All the while, coursing through the eight songs, which average out at nine minutes apiece, there is an arid heat that boils all about. It is anticipation, alertness, hyperawareness in a vast emptiness filled by the sounds of despair. Part of what is amazing about this continuity of mood in sound is the evident freedom by which it was produced. According to what little is written about this band, they loosely compose pieces and fill in the rest with improvisation. It works quite well, because there are only a couple little minutes of meandering. Most noticeably in "Warmth From A Window," when they shift between motifs on a chord change and the piano seems to be struggling to find its place. However, it does and the song remains relatively unharmed, as does their particular sound. A sound that is unafraid to point to its influences like friends in the crowd. There are certainly touches of Red Sparowes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and the most recent manifestation of Do Make Say Think contained in Los Musicos Perdidos. While The Boats are certainly unabashed at playing to their influences, they do not become engulfed by them. Nor are they swallowed by the unforgiving geography of their sound." -Gabriel Bogart (Silent Ballet)

The Boats second album, aptly titled ‘Segundo’, arrives 8 long years after the debut release of ‘Los Musicos Perdidos’. It’s a long time between drinks, but the difficult second album has survived many set backs. 

Segundo was produced by J. Byron and recorded by Stuart Seers at JMC Studios in Melbourne, over the summer of 2006/2007 - and two of the hottest days on record. The approach was simple…go into a recording studio and improvise, everything. For the most part, this was true, a majority of the album is purely improvised. Several tracks were born from riffs brought to the table, others were spawned from inspiration. What followed was forged through the driving emotion of Melbourne’s extreme heat, and the kind of raw intensity that can only be produced from the marriage of glowing Fender valves and vintage Ludwig drums. 

With tracks like ‘Seize the Stars and Turn them into Cinders’, ‘There’s Not a Fire that can Warm Us’ and ‘The Last Man on Earth’, the band discovered a balance between their familiar improvisational approach, while maintaining a sense of structure. Other pieces, such as the epic ‘Trash Can Willy’ parts 1 and 2 are an exception; originally formed as an entire improvised jam, over 28 minutes long and later broken into two parts. Another complete, unedited improvised track was ‘The Merchant’, coming in at approx. 17 minutes in length, and included as one of the bonus tracks in the special bonus edition. 

Segundo is an epic, sprawling, largely improvised and yet focused instrumental post-rock album, fully formed and complex. A much darker record than its predecessor; it explores themes of urban aggression, the inherent destructive nature of modern society and the beautiful, yet tragic imagery associated with human isolation. There are larger concepts at work on Segundo, and the wait could almost be perfect timing.

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