Monday 8 June 2015

Bathymetry - Bathymetry

At the weekend we tipped Bathymetry on Shell Zenner's Amazing Radio show ahead of the release of their self-titled debut album which is out today. It's an exciting record that lives by its own conventions and rules devised in the minds of Ariel, Emily and Dave and it sounds like no other record you'll hear this year.

Bathymetry - the name comes from the study of depth of lakes and oceans - trade in curious tales set to tunes that, although quite simple in their component parts, never seem to want to sit still for more than a few moments. They don’t deal in the usual clichés and conventions – they launched the album this weekend with a fundraiser for their local cricket club.

In the main, the drums drive the pace of the song which allow Ariel and Emily the space to draw endearingly perverse bass and guitar lines over the top as they weave their stories over the top.  Songs like the six-minute opener Goblin Fruit and Evil Leather Jacket have more ideas and parts to them than many mere mortal bands spread thinly over the course of a whole album, whilst the magnificent silly Uncle Alice recycles one idea, but does it with a charm and innocence that you'd forgive it anything.

There's all sorts of different instrumentation on the record too – the banjo on Jarmalade and what sounds like a xylophone taking centre stage at the end of Goblin Fruit. It's this diversity that makes it such an engrossing record, but, beware, it's not one you can casually put on as it demands your attention, draws you under its spell and doesn't let you go.

It's a record that you'd find hard to place a label on - you could call it folk music, but it's far removed from how that particularly genre has been sanitized and commercialized.  It mixes dark and light in equal shades. This record is that slightly oddball friend we all have that you love to bits that treads their own path, cocks a snoot at convention and doesn't care what you, or anyone else, thinks about them.

We're not quite sure what they're singing about at times, but this just adds to the thrill of listening to it, trying to decipher the tales and in all likelihood getting it terribly wrong. Jarmalade, for example, comes in at two minutes and tells of building a treehouse to look up at the night sky, eat jam from jars and smoke cigars, Sweet Tooth that tells of a beau that has honey dripping off his tongue and smells of cinnamon or the slightly more sinister Doldrums – “here we are in the doldrums, picking daisies, just to kill them” before concluding the song repeating a mantra about drinking their own blood.

By the end of the album, you'll either be entranced and immersed in their way of thinking or you'll have switched off half way through. It's an album you will either love for its idiosyncracy, its joie-de-vivre and its complete lack of disregard for whether it's cool or not or hate it with a passion because you've taken it too seriously. It's come out on Ugly Man Records and whilst the style and subject matter is different the philosophy they adopt reminds us of that great under-rated band The Man From Del Monte that the label championed first time round.

Bathymetry is a joyful record that takes the listener on a journey through some strange places on the limits of its creators’ imaginations – for that alone they deserve to be applauded.

You can read our interview with Bathymetry here.

Bathymetry's official website can be found here and they are also on Facebook and Twitter.

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