Swim – Phantoms vs Fire (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

751163So let me get this straight. A Brazillian artistic polymath, based in Italy, making music using both traditional and digital instruments and as influenced by Icelandic post-rock dreamscaping as the American classical avant garde! This is how the world should be, cross pollinating, musically fluid, culturally borderless, wonderfully eclectic. As someone who grew up in much more musically tribal times, this is the world I have been longing to become the norm, one where demarcations and generic allegiances are abandoned to make way for music that is only guided by the composers imagination.

Beach House has a wonderful off-kilter quality, a strange collision of eastern exotica meeting western experimentalism, occident meets orient in some strange alternate reality, Cinematik is a hypnotic and meditative lucid dream and Nightwalker is built from swirls of pent up energy and claustrophobic pressure. For all the albums understatement and often minimal instrumentation, it is an album which covers a lot of ground musically, and the tracks seem designed to, using only the title as a reference point, conjure scenes and scenarios from films and stories that for now exist only in the listeners mind.

Swim is an album of gentle, cinematic creations, instrumentals which shimmer and sparkle like the sun on water, a collection of moods as much as music, a musical sketch which leaves enough space for the listener to fill in the details. I’m sure that Thiago C. Desant, the man behind the music, had very set ideas and influences in making the music, but the advantage of such free ranging music and particularly music not directed by anything as obvious and leading as lyrical direction, can only ever offer suggestion. This means that you are free to interpret the music in any way that best suits your own thoughts and imagination. It is as if he gets to write the album anew for everyone who falls under its charms.

But if pushed, Desant does admit that “In my head, ‘Swim’ tells the story of a couple who are tired of their daily routines and decide to leave their boring life behind. As they travel across the country in search for a new and more exciting life, they end up watching the return of the ancient beings that inspired the creation of all religions – the old gods – in a neon-lit pool of an old motel room,” explains Desant.“They then learn that the gods want to return because they want the world back to a prehistoric state. A world in which the ancient gods were still feared… Or maybe they’re just imagining things? It’s not a dream though. Oh, and I can assure you they’re not dead. No, no. Definitely not dead.” 

I only mention this because I have just read Neil Gaiman’s amazing American Gods, a story which captures such ideas in written form, whether this is a direct influence, a subliminal osmosis of similar ideas or just great minds thinking alike, I don’t know. Either way, maybe there is more to this idea than meets the eye and this is the soundtrack to the discuss…which should take place late at night, in front of an open fire with a few bottles of wine on hand.

 

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