Fanfarlo – The Sea (New World Records)

London-based indie folk quartet release excellent sci-fi themed EP

Released Oct 14th, 2013 / By Clementine Lloyd
Fanfarlo – The Sea (New World Records) Having existed for quite some time in an ultra-ether of their own, Fanfarlo have never been as prolific as they have in the last few years.

Conceived in 2006, or thereabouts, Swedish born singer Simon Balthazar has taken the group on a ride and since 2012 they have released their second studio album, have a third studio record tipped for release in 2014 and on top of that have released EP The Sea.

A precursor to the 2014 LP, this new endeavour deals exclusively with the yearning for a simpler time.

No, we’re not talking when the Mars bar was 25p, or those heady days where you could leave your two year old playing on the street without the threat of stealth weirdoes.

What Fanfarlo have obsessed about is the desire to take it ultra old-school, back to amphibian territory. An odd concept maybe, a hefty amount of the record sounds like a cardboard jigsaw that has been left out in the autumn rain. A little warped, but interesting to see the picture inside the picture.

Opener 'A Distance' is one of the more anchored tracks its steady beat focusing the direction as squawking saxophones sends ripples through the airwaves. Fittingly for a song exclusively dealing with the difficulties of communication in a world full of portals of conversation and social media networks, its frayed edges and near breakdown outro is really rather joyous.

Next up, 'The Sea' really dives head first into this notion of escape to a more aquatic landscape. Droid noises pick across a deserted landscape of dry clicks, before kicking in with more warped strings and discord. Like a Dali painting, something is not quite right, but it’s beautiful to watch.

It’s in the will to destroy all that we have become, bleeding into the way the instruments reveal themselves to the listener, stealthily and yet a little violent.

As Balthazar sings ‘All the cities we have built/All the centuries we have killed/ We could be swimming in the ocean so we feel at home again’ we can all recall a time, laying on your back in the waves, that you have never wanted to leave.

Dropping you suddenly on dry land again, the swirling rewind of 'The Wilderness' places you into a dusty scene. Batting around that elemental Californian sound, the effect is like fresh sunlight warming your ears.

Perhaps the sweetest of all the EP, the repetition in ‘There is a wilderness that's waiting’ makes you want to run out and explore, anywhere! The duet of Balthazar and Cathy Lucas is delightfully sugary, as the swell of the collection of orchestral instruments folds in on you.

Apparently calling on the wealth of Native American Peyote music, finale 'Witchi Tai To' is more ethereal.

Collective voices focused on repetition of lost words that break down with the trumpets, glockenspiel, guitar and drums then transform into the prayer-like ‘Witchi tai to … Water spirit feeling, springing round my head. Makes me feel glad that I'm not dead.’ The shimmery quality mimicking water, leaving you feeling sort of refreshed and clean.

The Sea is short and sweet, at times can be a little samey, but is nevertheless rather nice to whack up full volume and pound the streets with renewed vigour and a little wonderment.

As an entrée to their 2014 album, apparently fixated on futurist exploration and the evolution of mankind, it has a beautiful quality to it.

Whilst this looks backward to a time we can't possibly remember, the next installment will look forward to a time we can't possibly know, and there is something lovely about that imagination.

There is so much to explore in the lands of the unknown and Fanfarlo are willing to go there. So join them!