CD Review

Martyn Bates – “Mystery Seas”

By Marcus Pan

Mystery SeasMartyn Bates creates his music from a highly artistic angle. It's more poetry set to bright animated backgrounds of ambient washes, flutes and other bright instrumentation. Lyrical content is quite good, even if it does have a flavor of cliché goth at times. His voice is very comfortable, and he laces subtle harmonies and he'll sometimes use the minimal rhythms available in his ambient muisc to create a movement that is only barely present, creating a very floating feeling while listening to his work.

Mystery Seas is subtitled as Letters Written #2. You Looking To Me For a Sign is nicely arranged, very full bodied and builds from a sky swept ambient wash to flute movements that drive an otherwordly feel into the music. Latter attached smooth and complicated rhythms add a feeling of speed without actually speeding up the rest of the music, the percussion itself held in check by the already built surrounding synthetics.

Shorepoem uses a more analog sound, but the vocals add a taste of modern rhythm into the old world feel. Lazily playing accordion and latter flute movements create a foresty feel. Occasionally, lack of solid percussive movements in tracks on Mystery Seas will lead to a droning of the song - a feeling that it's longer than it could or should be. This occurrs on Calm Of Dark for example, a track that's about five and a half minutes long but seems much longer do to its slow and languid progression. I've also found this to happen during Imagination Feels Like Poison as well - I'm tired of the song by halfway through because it doesn't change enough or move enough.

The playful If I Could See Everyone is a highlight track to Mystery Seas, and will break the smooth reverie of the rest of the album with its climactic orchestral hits and dirty ambient washes. Its abrupt ending is almost disturbing as it dumps you directly into the surreal and floaty Of Night.

Droning and lack of enough change and movement of some of the tracks aside, Mystery Seas is a nice ride. Pleasant, controlled and comfortable and there's always a brightness to the music that's uplifting. Martyn Bates' vocals are nice to hear - he has a good control of his voice even up to tenor levels, and it has a young sound to it. He'd make a brilliant poetry reader even without the nice musical backdrops. Mystery Seas makes for a nice close to a harsh day or work week - a relaxing world to come home to and phase out in for a while.

Contact Information:
Strange Fortune
Post: PO Box 440383, Somerville, MA, 02144, USA
Phone: (617) 718-9990
E-Mail: salo@strangefortune.com
Web: www.strangefortune.com

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