Sending Letters to The Sea is an ambitious collaboration between a group of remarkably varied musical talents including renowned artist Mark Garry (who headed up the project), electro-acoustic composer Karl Burke, the distinctive voice that is Nina Hynes, jazz percussionist Sean Carpio and Fingal’s Chamber Choir, among many others. Commissioned by Fingal County Council, the album was recorded in Studio East, Berlin and St. Columbia’s in Swords, Co. Dublin over a two year period.
Sending Letters to The Sea is stylistically diverse yet cohesive; blending ambient, nu-classical, country-folk, orchestral and choral music, creating an absorbing collection of life-affirming musical pieces.
-Shifting Structures’ opens the album with graceful minimalist drones and buried scattered percussion, waves of subtle sounds evolve memories and emotions; comforting with a hint of melancholy. -History is Getting Older’ has rich American-folk tones with heart-wrenching violins and singing guitar lines while -She Deserves Better Than This’ and -Hopscotch’ are elevating, jaunty and meandering, the latter with a delightfully simple piano line and soaring strings.
The Fingal Chamber Choir flourish the recordings with nuances of grandiose punctuation, the elegiac tones over the rendered piano on -The Crossing’ add drama and opulence. In saying that, never at any point is the LP bombastic, in fact Sending Letters.. is as modest as it is ambitious. Every melody is simple yet clever and touching. The guitar on -Something Never Said’ is nostalgic and the warm faint backing vocals make it into something of a lullaby.
For research Garry looked at ‘historical connections between music and faith from both technical and philosophical perspectives’ and perhaps this is apparent; it is certainly an evocative, musing and transcendent record. Picture Dublin’s Smithfield Square the day after the ice-storm, the entire country has been transformed by a glistening blanket of snow and Ireland’s capital has been all but abandoned after hellish commutes home the previous night. There’s a decimated amount of cars going through the city and very few pedestrians. The few that are about are moving in two conflicting speeds; a crawling-slow moonwalk stepping with careful trepidation or, without a moments warning, the rushed panic-clambering of a flaying tap-dancer, some achieving impressive pirouettes. Its only 3.30pm but a descended freezing fog is blocking any sun, the glare of the street lights through the haze is beautiful but unnatural, every building could be twenty stories high because vision only extends a few feet in any direction. The cold is so ferocious. It cuts your face, cementing your physical presence but the ghostly sounds of -Another Place’ bring you exactly there. The other-worldly scene with the ethereal choir create a moment that is singular, humbling and truly awesome; awesome meaning to inspire awe or admiration or wonder, not what humanoid turtles cry when they nail a Kickflip McTwist (or something).
An enchanting and tender record Sending Letters to The Sea is a perfect accompaniment to lazy Sundays with papers and tea, Saturday evenings boozing with friends, long spaced out walks or staring out the window on a rickety cross country bus ride.
Buy from Road Records.