Originally released on the Clay Pipe label in an edition of 100
"The listener’s first reaction is to reach for the volume, which must certainly be turned too low. Now, to check the wires, one of which must have come loose. But rest assured, the album really is that quiet. Opening track “The Fan Of The Lobsters Tail,” in spite of the rather colorful title, begins with three guitar notes. The rest of the cut — the rest of the album — bears the same delicious hush, traces of momentum, and odd tangibility. Restorative and ethereal, with Michael Tanner (Plinth) on guitar, and Kerrie Robinson (Betika) on accordion. Improvised into existence during a single night, according to the one sheet, to “projections of the sea.”
Those familiar with Plinth already know not to expect thunderous percussion, post-rock guitar or massive orchestration, but Thalassing is nearly lowercase in its restraint (those familiar with Betika will find this project to be a huge departure). The immediacy of this latest release is probably most evident in “Emerald Palace,” a brief sketch, with its zoom-in-close guitar sauntering and adagio accordion. The accidental chiming of Tanner’s left hand relocating across the guitar fretboard is almost as loud as the intentional notes themselves. Tanner explains the lightfooted approach this way: “Track ‘Thalassing’ breaks apart around 2/3rds of the way through. Compressing/limiting it turned out to also erase a lot of the intricacies of the track, so I mastered the whole record to the ‘safe’ threshold of that one track. Particular, I know, but it’s my favourite song on the record, and I couldn’t imagine it being released without that song.”
It’s a telling detail, that Tanner and Robinson kept their eyes on the waves while they played. Only seven seas exist, but artists have glimpsed an infinity of oceans: violent and calm, distant and menacing. Green, blue and black. Beautiful, terrifying. The seas of Thalassing are slow, inviting, and incubating. The clean toned and lightly reverberant guitar paints in primary colors, and the haze of the accordion creates gentle but necessary dissonance. Other than the apparent loop (at times we’re counting two musicians and hearing three, or four), there are few other effects. “Three Arcs” for example is playful and out-of-tempo, a keen metaphor for two performers composing in the moment. Not a labor of love, mind you, because there is no labor here. Try instead a letter of love, or a message corked inside a bottle.
You might have already noted that Michael Tanner also records as The A. Lords. As Nathan Thomas wrote of that self-titled debut last month, Thalassing’s eponymous debut is also “beautiful….blissful, so far away from the actual physical world we’re happily destroying, and that will probably take us down with it.” One of the pieces is shorter than two minutes, another is longer than nine. The track names may also help differentiate, but aesthetically, it does not get more cohesive than this: a brief dance of two instruments, the unedited genesis of ideas. Guitar, accordion, the occasional, sparse piano, and laden musical talent, inspired by the movement of the ocean.
- Fred Nolan for Fluid Radio"
released June 20, 2011
Michael Tanner - Guitars.
Kerrie Robinson - Accordion, Piano.