What does Seaming To sound like?
Cinematic esoteric chamber pop with a haunted heart of dust and gold.
The review of Seaming To – Dust Gatherers
When I first discovered Seaming To last year with her EP ‘Natural Process‘ I described her experimental ambience as almost unclassifiable. Flash forward to 2023 and Seaming To returns with her new album ‘Dust Gatherers’ which is just as experimental and esoteric. The beauty in what Seaming To produces is showcased by how I’m never sure what mood is winning out across a song. I feel equal parts haunted, scared, enchanted and safe.
This eerie balance kicks off with instrumental opener ‘anOverture’ which starts off with rich and vibrant wind chimes and abstract wind synths. Slowly this turns into a slow bleed of harsh noise that slides down the keyboard into a doom chime. ‘Blessing’ follows with some angelic vocal melodies soothing you, backed by fluffy airy synth hues underneath. Then you start to hear impassioned distant backing vocals that sound like Kate Bush leading a seance. Shifting from ease to unease and then holding both in duality is what this album does best.
Seaming To is quite happy to veer off into chaos though and that’s where ‘Tousles’ comes in. Backed by pensive bubbles of synth gurgles, the vocals are dry and up close compared to the gentle airbrushed previous tracks. As the choruses kick in the synths veer off-key and become more percussive like a plucked or struck instrument. At the same time, Seaming To switches vocal style to a space operatic drone. Then we have the clumsy comedic circus plod of ‘Brave’. Sounding like a slow-motion waltzer ride, the synths are cute and playful but the vocals are stretched and contorted out of all scale and understanding. The entire track has backing whispers too just in case you have a clown phobia. Nice.
Whilst not quite orbiting the same sonic space, Seaming To shares the same theatrical styling as Sarah Kirkland Snider. Whereas Snider is largely orchestral, Seaming To stays purely in synth form but creates entire worlds within them. ‘Traveller’ is the album at its unhinged ingenious best. Flowing from orchestral folk to space baroque to industrial noise to avant cabaret in just over three minutes, it’s a trip. Clarinet and glockenspiel help fill out the synth sounds and they play a large part in making that track crazy. They also form the spine for ‘Water Flows’, a serpentine unfurling mystical beauty. It’s one of the best songs that evokes the feeling of uncertain curiosity I’ve heard in ages. The tuned percussion of ‘xenanmax’ make a glitchy and playful interlude like the inner sanctum of a shard of glass is cracking.
The baroque chamber side of Seaming To comes out in the beautiful ‘Hitchhiker’. Swapping synths (mostly) for a string quartet makes this track stand out sonically from the rest but it’s just as dark and alluring. Even here, in her most acoustic form, a hypnotic computer signal and gaussian blurred bells ring out to draw you in. The album’s lyrics often try to tempt you to stay a while longer and this track is like the sirens call. Percussion doesn’t really factor throughout ‘Dust Gatherers’ but Matmos-sounding minuscule clicks and tiny squishes spiral out of control in ‘Look Away’. It’s as close to drums as the album gets but as with the rest of the album, the rhythm is laid out in the synth or glockenspiel riffs more than anything else. The track is a restless one about becoming infatuated with a daydream of an ideal life. You can hear the desperation of Seaming To calling to herself to look away as if her brain is the siren’s call to herself.
As if numbed, ‘Pleasures Are Meaningless’ follows as the only acoustic track. With just room-recorded piano and voice, there is a purity to the track as it tumbles around notes lost. With love and lust parting ways, we close the album with ‘Tenderly’. This clarinet and vocal piece is absolutely sublime. Cinematic in a way that current Bjork ballads are, it’s less about melody and more about holding space for mourning a love lost. Distant radio frequencies fade in and out as if we’re losing touch too and it is a sombre, self-soothing ending of remembrance. After all, it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.
‘Dust Gatherers’ is a phenomenal album. Free from the general shackles of pop tropes or song structures, Seaming To crafts an album that tells a story. She tells it with gushing enthusiasm and commitment that makes all the outlandish and bold creative choices stick the landing. This album is an emotional rollercoaster and not an easy pick up and play – but that’s exactly why I love it. Easily one of the standout albums of 2023, Seaming To’s sophomore album is a triumph.
Recommended track: Traveller
Support Higher Plain Music
Higher Plain Music is part of the Higher Plain Network – a one-man indie media project. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. In return, you’ll receive additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and free downloads. You can also donate using PayPal. Sharing the website helps too or using the affiliate buy now links on reviews. I receive a few pence per Amazon sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. I’d love to make this a full-time media network and your support can make that happen. Thank you.