Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Dead Sea Sparrow marries ambient drones with melodic elements

December 7, 2011

Dead Sea Sparrow is not the kind of music I normally review here at Independent Clauses: the Hymns EP has very few formal pop ideas, depending more on ambient soundscapes, droning noises and ghostly vocals to evoke moods. It’s very abstract, especially opener “Hymn #3”; it barely has any distinctly “musical” sounds till 40 seconds into its 1:34 runtime. Even the more musical songs strike a primarily cold vein of the “expansive soundscape” body.

So why review it at a place that mostly requires a pop melody and energetic tempos? Because there are flashes throughout the 15 minutes of the EP that memorably marry heavy atmospheres with strikingly linear melodies: closer “Second Skin” places a plodding keyboard under a drone and a surprisingly straightforward vocal line, while the back half of the 1:15 “Pulpit” turns ghostly synths and falsetto into a celebratory moment. These sections are worth celebrating.

I have no idea where Dead Sea Sparrow will go from here, but I’m intrigued by the project. It’s outside of what I usually cover here, but there are still subtle melodic elements drawing this pop-lover in.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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