There’s a fresh, clean sound to Newport based electronauts, Jewellers. Those of you with a hankering for minimalist electronica, as well as bands like Tycho and Boards of Canada, would do well to seek out Jewellers’ debut longplayer, Lakeswimmer.
‘Sing Trees’ judders, skips and fidgets like a Friendly Fires CD with a grease mark on it. A contorted, genderless vocal adds stylised, barely coherent lyrics (I’ll be honest, I found them utterly incoherent, but I’m sure they mean something!) into the mix, eventually getting twisted towards something halfway between a frog croak and a bird call. The simplistic, economic percussion allows for the synths and keyboards to take precedence, guiding the song. The ending is somewhat deflating though, feeling rather frayed, compared to the tightly produced sound that came before it.
‘Confluence’ suits a misty dew dusted countryside, awaking as the sun gradually rises above it. Gentle keyboards matched with rolling, scattered piano, layered over haunting, possible vocals (I say possible as they’re digitised that much, it’s at the point where they stop being ‘vocals’ and become ‘ambience’). It’s a gorgeous piece of atmospherics and musical landscaping.
There’s an endearing naivety and grace to ‘Something Particular’, employing what you might describe as the BBC sound archives Xylophone rain effect (being played under the sea) in some gorgeously sweet melodies. This is driven by a tight, retro synthesizer styled beat which slowly builds to include a strained almost wail. Once again, it cannot be truly described as a vocal, due to the digital distortion of the voice.
Sounding like a summer evening as the waves break on the rocks, ‘ThirtySix’ adopts a female vocal (once more chopped, cropped and digitally rebuilt) to add a new dimension to their own brand of toned down electronica. There’s no rush here. The track really developes at the two minute fifty second mark, when a downtempo drumloop is brought in that sounds remarkably similar to the drumming on Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Fix up look sharp’, only reduced in tempo considerably! It’s all very dreamy and drowsy, but in that good way that too many rum and cola in the sun makes you dreamy and drowsy. You welcome it, because it make you feel so good.
Jewellers may have stolen another soundbites from Friendly Fires at the opening of ‘Easier Together’. Sounding like they’ve looped the opening to ‘Skeleton Boy’ into a tight synth hook, Jewellers bed the loop in with sharp drumming, turning the track into a groove fuelled piece of disco. The cropped female vocals drop it a little close to ‘N-Trance in the chillout room’ for my liking, but the layering of these vocals at the two minute mark twist it into some strange, warped acid jazz piece. It all lasts slightly too long though, getting a little too lost in playing with drum loops instead of forming solid melodies to build rhythms around.
Album closer ‘Pass it by’, steals the piano from Elton John’s ‘Bennie And The Jets’ and slows it right down, dropping the tone to make it something heartwarmingly familiar, but new and exciting. Building upon the piano with strong, beat driven percussion and soft, ambient synths, this creates gorgeous dimensions, until a singular, repeated vocal loop hits at the three minute mark, lifting the track into Underworld and Orbital territory. Frustratingly, where ‘Easier Together’ got lost in drum loops and technical production, ‘Pass It By’ would benefit from extension and indulgence, building around that vocal loop and embellishing it with synths and drum loops.
Lakeswimmer is a beautiful, strong and elegant piece of art, deserving of your ears’ attention. Yes, it suffers from tracks being too long in places and too short in others, but overall is a confident and beautifully produced record, and is thoroughly recommended.
Words: Fuzz Caminski