The sea. There is something special about the sea. About the way it ebbs and flows. The way the tides come in and go out again. The sun shines and the sky fills the water with rich, blue/green tones. The rain comes and the water rises, dark, threatening the very land that only hours earlier had been an integral part of its gentle dance. A relationship volatile and strained yet beautiful at the same time. I wrote a piece of music years ago having sat on a wall by the beach early one morning watching the water. The stillness was unbreakable. In that moment came a calm, reflective piece of music that I still hold with real fondness when I hear it. Max Richter’s soundtrack to the animation ‘Lost and Found’ is also influenced by the sea. The changing mood of the piece is influenced by the subject matter and as the weather changes and the sea rises, the beautiful piano that was on offer is replaced by big, brass and brash orchestral sounds. A perfect foil for instrumental music. The Sea changes in a similar manner to the way a good piece of music should.
And here lies the perfect entry point to ‘In Passing’ by Steve Gibbs and Cyrus Reynolds. The opening title track and ‘With Our Heads Held High’, both evoke the beauty and calm of the sea, touching on Olafur Arnalds sense of pop and combining it beautifully with Richters subtle understanding of texture and tone. Piano and strings combine beautifully to generate a sense of warmth. Yes, this is the sea but the sea at its most beautiful and calm. As we move through ‘Reflection’ the beautiful interplay of piano and strings reaches new heights with subtle instrumentation added for that slight change of pace. Movement is required and though we never reach the dark stormy seas, the winds do pick up to push us through ‘Where Am I’ into the wonderful EP closer ‘After’. There is more propulsion here. More intent. Almost like the closing of day. Night approaches and the sea becomes something completely different. A different beast with a whole new world lurking beneath. It really does make you wonder where this record could have gone had it been a longer player.
In truth, this is an accomplished short piece of music. Filled with warmth and drenched with goodness, it takes me back to that calm morning years ago when I first felt the true connection between the sea and music. I am not sure that’s what Gibbs and Reynolds had in mind when constructing this little gem, but isn’t that what wonderful music does? Transports you to places deep in the mind. This is my little world. They have soundtracked it and whether they meant to or not have affected me in the best possible way. As Jaques Yves Coustaeu once said:
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
Like all good music should. And this does.