REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Sea Oleena’s New Record Sends Us Into Deep Escapism

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Sea Oleena’s new album Shallow is perhaps the most relaxing and transportive album I have listened to in a long time. Her stunning vocals carry you through a sublime, dream-like 9 songs - all of which carry an emotive cinematic quality, providing the perfect soundtrack to 43 minutes of escapism.

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Sea Oleena's 'Shallow' out 30/09 Sea Oleena's 'Shallow' out 30/09[/caption]

The album opener "If" is reminiscent of Massive Attack or Bonobo, piano and strings support a rougher percussion that drifts in and out of focus, playing fascinatingly with Oleena’s vocals. Her voice bares a tone similar to Scandinavian songstress Lykke Li, but it is set to a less poppy background, something complementary to her breathy, angelic tone.

Quickly we lose the Ben Frost-esque wavering bass and the album continues with a gentler feel; haunting and less aggressive. It is here that Oleena’s background in soundscape production is audible. The tracks drift smoothly into each other, occasionally layering in and out certain instruments or balancing her drifting and echoing vocals with a more regular bass undercurrent. "Shades of Golden" has a beautiful rhythmic guitar part soothingly repeated, giving the number a metronomic and measured underscore, bringing stricter pace back to the album.

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Charlotte Oleena Charlotte Oleena[/caption]

I was initially confused by Oleena’s lyrics, barely understanding them, and feeling almost frustrated by this. However, as you continue through the soundtrack our attention is concentrated on her sound rather than meaning. She plays around with intonation and fiddles with the rhythm of speech to present something laid-back and soothing.

The eleven minute long "Vinton, LA", is reminiscent of Bjork’s chaotic yet lethargic singing. The ‘sen-ten-ces….stop’ following a rhythm or pattern similar to speech, but rather follow their own path creating an album of music that rejects standard song structure (whatever ‘standard’ may be). "Vinton, LA" is a mammoth track, composed seemingly of two songs. They oppose each other on either side of a mirror of silence; we are being given a moment to catch our breath before listening to the rest of the piece.

My album highlight comes at the very end of "Shallow. Paths." Layered vocals, guitars and breathy drifting vocals in the album closer seem to be a good sample of the whole record - the best bits whacked in one short piece. It leaves me wanting more, and I’m sure it will do the same for most listeners. Oleena puts her stamp on a very good final chapter.

Shallow is released on 30/09 on Lefse Records. Twitter: @seaoleena Tumblr: Written by Graeme du Plessis