Seaming – Mermaid – 5:4

Seaming - Mermaid - 5:4

Seaming To is an English singer and musician whose work seems to be the product of, to date, three distinct periods of activity. She was a guest vocalist on some singles in the early 2000s, followed by her own first EP, Soda Slow, in 2006. Then things went quiet until late 2012, when the EP Mermaid and her debut album Seaming were released. Then things went quiet again, until July last year when she released another EP, Natural Process, and her second album Dust Gatherers is due for release next month. i’m not going to speculate on the whys and wherefores of this stop-start creative progression, but i do want to spend just a little time exploring Mermaid.

In some respects its four brief tracks hint at the more expansive, polystylistic lyricism that characterises her debut album (released a month after the EP), but i actually prefer the more restricted, experimental tone that pervades Mermaid. It’s book-ended by tracks focusing on wordless vocalise. ‘Threads’ puts together sustained and undulating tones, clustering them in a middle register such that they sound somewhat constrained and muffled, even when higher tones appear later. It’s followed by the clunky plunky gamelan-evoking percussion of ‘Mermaid’, where an askew cabaret-like tune is impinged upon by assorted acoustic and electronic fragments.

Its upbeat tone is answered by the more languid, breathy ‘Tenderly’, a song where it seems as if the melody is an almost incidental or at most equal element among everything else. The “accompaniment” (for want of a better word), a cycling, occasionally varied or embellished, chordal idea played by soft winds, keeps going regardless, the voice finding its place in relation to this. Especially striking is the way the vocal line shifts into a very low register later on, only making the music live up more powerfully to its title. Mermaid ends with ‘Edge’, a more simple act of vocalise comprising a closely-focused centre with gentler upper and lower register voices, opening up halfway through to form a rich chorus.

Mermaid is available as a free download from Seaming’s Bandcamp site. And if this whets your appetite i’d highly recommend checking out last year’s excellent Natural Process EP, which suggests Seaming is moving into a more overtly experimental form of expression. It’ll be interesting to hear how (and if) this manifests on her forthcoming album.