Silent Went The Sea is a lethargic ocean that pauses to breathe and then stays there, halfway through its eternal cycle. The sea is an ageless, prehistoric body, as old as the Earth itself. Just after the tired splash has washed against the shore and just before the shuddering relief as the cool, rhythmic waves return home to the sea, everything is still. And then, in the blink of an eye, the sea pushes back and normal service resumes. A gap exists, albeit fleetingly, as the waves wash against the shore and then flow back out again, continuing a motion that has always been a constant since the dawn of time.
In music, silence is a crucial element. In most cases, it’s not just underused – it’s completely neglected. Silence is a sound, and sound can be found in silence. The shore produces music of its own, but it alternates with silence, too. Silent Went The Sea is the next port of call for Eilean Records, a double disc album and DVD that gently lags. Using the portal of music, Offthesky (Jason Corder) drags the listener through the looking glass and into this moment of stillness itself. The dregs of the sea float past on currents of cool, electronic tones. Joined by the strings of a sea breeze, the music encroaches and recedes. The creaking timber of the boats echoes through to the listener and congeals until it resembles the thick, coughing texture of the strings. Droplets of water overlap in an ever-changing geography drawn up by a mysterious cartographer.
The Pacific is an immense ocean, but it still comes to an end as the water breaks upon the shore, and the dark waters are reflected in the murkier passages of music. As they repeat their progression, the strings sail by and their tendrils float on the water. A slow drift is the order of the day and that’s epitomized in ‘Neath’, where a sliver of a moonlit melody is half-submerged in the watery texture, and the rougher, slightly abrasive strings start to creak and give way, like slowly splintering wood on a sinking boat. Radio frequencies sit in the pockets of the music, filling gaps and haunting the space with lost Maydays and SOS signals. It isn’t just white noise. Voices come and go as a void of static seeps out of a weak phone signal or a fading walkie-talkie bandwidth, but it sounds more like a ghost-box ushering in the voices of those claimed by the sea, alive in death on the other side, and it can’t quite compete with the natural sound of the deep.
Later on, a sunlit harmony lends the sea a lovely luminescence, and a voice like that of a beautiful siren enters. Her voice glows and sings the sweetest of songs, beckoning you to come closer. The music thins out as it nears shallow water, and the surf slowly fizzles out. The sea is silent once again.