High Tides - High Tides - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

High Tides - High Tides

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2015-08-02

High Tides are true to their name. They take great pains make you feel like you're on a beach, or possibly a cruise ship, with the sun setting over the waves. In fact, the first sound you hear on the album is literally an ocean wave. And almost every song sticks to a nautical or beach theme. The focus works, though, as the group delivers an interesting mix of ambience and IDM.

The opener, '7 Mile Beach', leans much more towards the former, giving a feeling of drifting across a chartless sea, or perhaps sinking into its depths, with loads of mournful pads seasoned with the occasional sparkly bit. The closer, 'The Sunset Tanz', closes things out weighted to the ambient side as well, but features some percussion and a somewhat comprehensible melody.

A few songs, 'Blurring My Day', 'Pyschic Love Damage,' and 'The Beach Elder", work in a downtempo style, with more melodious synths, plodding beats, and breathy, vocoded, androgynous vocals combining to sound like long lost Bent tracks akin to 'Cylons in Love'.

At other times, the group sounds exactly like M83 sans vocals, especially on the drawn-out 'Coastal Beach '86', a song with slow, deep pads, a hollowed, tubular bells melody, and sweet hi notes, all driven by a sparse but punchy beat.

Perhaps the best song is 'Sunware'. This soothing, bouncy song sees the group doing a decent Boards of Canada impersonation, but adding in some glittery synths across the top and a fizzy beat percolating through the center. I watched the video for the song, and it absolutely hammers home the central themes, with all the footage seeming to be beach-focused and from the late 70s or early 80s, which makes for amusing viewing. You'll see lots of sand, surf, bikinis, and funny haircuts.

Then there are places where the group doesn't sound like anyone else, such as on the arresting 'Face Breakout', a track most notable for its quite unique vocal approach, a weirdly papery/scratchy thing fluttering in the breeze that disrupts expectations.

The overall effect of this set is pretty much precisely what they seem to have intended: relaxation and introspection. There's nothing atonal or unpleasant to be found here; everything is smooth, like a stone worn down by water over the millennia. This is the perfect album to play after a long night as the sun is rising, or at the end of a hard day as it's setting.

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