Hourglass Sea; a producer from Bradford, UK. Following months of activity on his Soundcloud page, Return To The Crematorium is the debut 8-track album release available either digitally and/or on cassette. We seem to have been discovering an influx of talent from the Yorkshire area recently on WIB; HashFinger, Handbook, K Hands… and it is beginning to feel like a new wave is forming in motion.
However, I approached this joint with complete naivety as to what to expect. Having seen the artists name attached to labels of chillwave and synth-pop I had vague ideas of what to expect but my familiarity with these genres is limited. My mind was malleable. By declaring this it may seem to put me at a disadvantage as I embark on a review, as it gives me little to gauge or compare with, however as it turns out it wouldn’t prove useful as a bearing either way…
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Another-World.mp3″ text=”Hourglass Sea – Another World” dl=”0″]
Another World is a great musical genesis for this album. From the monolithic synths and the plethora of instrumentation that follows it is clear that this is going to take your ears back to an 80’s infused journey, whether that is nostalgic or not. While the ton-heavy drums take a prominent seat on this track, the lighter background melodies are more sub-textual, especially with their ability to conjure up reminiscent memories of your favourite training movie-montages. With only one track down it already seems as though the power is at full capacity, in actuality it rarely comes down from this level of energy.
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Crystal Kross’s guitar and flute combo begins by painting a sepia toned soundscape saturated in 70’s soul as the pounding drums and bass kick in to accompany on one seriously dope track. Hourglass Sea’s abilities are on full display by this point for any doubtful ears that may be still present. This track, perhaps more so than the others, has a bit of breathing room to accommodate an emcee if one were to take it on, and you can easily imagine some of the best feeling right at home on it.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Home-Again.mp3″ text=”Hourglass Sea – Home Again” dl=”0″]
Perhaps a deduction no one else will have, and most likely light years away from Hourglass Sea’s own inspiration, but the ethereal strings and harmonising flutes of Home Again for me carry the musical spirits of some of the great scorers of Asian cinema. It made me wonder how the composers would have chosen to score Tsui Hark’s “new wave” in the 80’s given today’s technology and hardware. Anyway, returning from obscurity… the underlying point loosely being made is how multi-limbed the production really is in reaching out to all corners of musical appreciation from all backgrounds.
These same cylinders were firing in my mind as L.A. Lights came around. The video, directed by Jack King, is a visual narrative feast that makes Bradford look like Mad Max meets Six-String Samurai…
I couldn’t begin to decipher it with ease, partly because the music has too strong a gravitational pull for me to focus elsewhere; however the stark circle of life and death is perhaps an allusion to the albums title, and is surely material worthy of digression. The neo-gutter synths lay the foundations for some heavy, feverishly paced drums as the track progresses; a real stand out.
[wpaudio url=”http://wordisbond.data.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Life-Infinite.mp3″ text=”Hourglass Sea – Life Infinite” dl=”0″]
With Life Infinite, the closest example that comes to mind when describing it would be Metallica’s “Battery”, as it begins with a same sense of tranquil yet ominous “calm before the storm” type atmosphere before turning into a relentless headnodder laced with orchestral harmonies. Typically, drawing a link from the heavy metal genre wouldn’t be the most valid move for a hip-hop site but it shows further testament to the musical diversity evoked on this release.
With Return To The Crematorium, Hourglass Sea successfully escapes the simple definitions given at the start of this review, showcasing some truly great music. It has to be said that the sounds may not be to everyones taste. I tend to prefer a more acoustic, “organic” sound and in all honesty I may well have passed right by this release if I were particularly stuck in my ways that day, however venturing outside the box is easy when what’s on offer is done this well.
Another point worth bringing up is that because of its constant energy it might require a certain mood to put it on, however this is offset by the fact that it clocks in at just under 30 minutes which means it doesn’t draw itself out to the point of exhaustion. It burns fast but definitely shines bright; an ecstatic journey of soundwaves with more fluorescence than Marty McFly’s Hoverboard. Such talent, creativity and obvious passion shouldn’t go unnoticed.
[easyreview title=”Word Is Bond Rating” cat1title=”Production” cat1detail=”Energetic, melodic, hard 80’s infused sounds” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Originality” cat2detail=”Well crafted and unique” cat2rating=”4.5″ cat3title=”Replayability” cat3detail=”Diversity in sound keeps it fresh but may require a certain mood to get into” cat3rating=”3.5″ summary=”A stellar entrance that should have people paying attention to Hourglass Sea”]