The Perlon artist returns with a revitalised sound on her third LP.
While a notable number of modern-day Perlonites also record their music in live takes, Sea Of Thee's tracks have a vivid sense of having taken place in a discrete time and location with a specific atmospheric pressure. A basic analogy would be with field recording. Listening to Sea Of Thee, you have the uncanny feeling of being somewhere with someone while your ears are guided by the decisions and movements of the presence behind the recorder—in this case, Nidam piloting her fleet of machines. This might sound needlessly abstracted for what is essentially a house record, but it's this very sensation that animates the album.
Working with a real-time hardware-based workflow does not guarantee such a distinctive result. In fact, Nidam more or less stopped making music to give herself time for the countless hours of studio research required to develop what she jokingly calls "the crazy amaze-y sound," which first appeared on Deep Under Sobriety Regime but enters full bloom on the LP. The fruits of her experimentation lurk beneath the surface from the album's opening seconds, and remain a subtle but important coating. "Dust And Dirt"'s invitingly rich noise floor manages to evoke a stack of amps pushed to 11 and left to idle in an abandoned water silo, providing a rich atmosphere to pump and breathe around a whiplash kick-bass pulse.
The physicality of the sound wouldn't amount to much if it wasn't deployed in the service of engaging musical ideas. Sea Of Thee's success lies in the balance Nidam achieves between the two. Take "Königin Von Saba." What starts by contrasting a monstrously large kick with a curious lead line subliminally slides into a buoyant major key with the emergence of a new bassline in the second half, which turns the track from a stern, heads-down workout into a rowdy celebration. "Die Sonne Innere"'s modal harmony suggests both minor and major angles, which are brought to life by a ravenous bass tone with the stalking quality of a nighttime predator. "News From East" nearly knocked me off my chair after the five-minute mark, where Nidam pushes a synth so hard in the mix it threatens to reach escape velocity.
There are plenty of moments like these, but the rhythms and textures underlying each piece makes them pleasing on a general, sustained level. It's not an album that beats you over the head with its brilliance. Rather, it's content to satisfy itself with a minimum of fuss. This is central to the record's appeal. Where most Perlon double packs in recent years were built for club use, Sea Of Thee is a "proper album," and probably the label's most convincing since Ricardo Villalobos's Dependent And Happy. If you're the type that normally wouldn't touch Perlon with a ten-foot pole, Sea Of Thee could be a welcome surprise.