Album: Seadog – Internal Noise

Internal Noise, the new album from Brighton-based  duo Seadog was released on the 15th of May on Austerity Records and is certainly worth investing time in, if you haven’t already. The project of Mark Benton and Tom Chadd, joined by a revolving cast of additional collaborators, has crafted a dream-evoking set of songs that is certainly an immersive listening experience. The album was recorded at Bella Union’s Brighton studio and produced by Jack Wolter and explores a range of contrasting realms; of human and machine; of inner anguish and cathartic release-  with insomnia a recurring lyrical starting point. You can hear those dichotomous juxtapositions within the music too, notably in the interlocution between mechanised rhythms and ethereal, but profoundly human, collected voices.

Tidal Wave kicks things off with a relentlessly driving beat, heavy in the mix, coupled with high squalls of jagged guitar – the vulnerable vocals reminiscent of From a Basement on the Hill era Elliott Smith.  The chorus though, shifts things up and it becomes immediately clear why Jason Lytle of Grandaddy is a supporter – this is spacey, hedonistic, Flaming Lips evoking stuff but holds enough originality in its melodic shifts and Marr-echoing guitar to feel like something new. The production is full, sometimes overwhelmingly so, every crack and crevice of the mix populated. They do like to end tracks in interesting ways too, as if the occasional song is a wayward child being lulled to sleep- chiming and meditative and lulling. 

Old Joe pulsates and fizzes with a melody that feels achingly familiar, but the album comes into its own in its quieter moments. How we Lost Our Minds is absolutely beautiful – like some odd, Flaming Lips-indebted Neil Young stroking strange chimes of guitar and offering a truly wondrous vocal – pure and aching but with those cracked high notes  that Neil Young captured so effortlessly. It’s a glorious, understated moment in which those production details enrich but still allow the space in the song to reverberate. The new age, sax augmented coda just adds to the pop-psyche sentiment. 

Early Beck is another touchstone in the arresting collisions of fuzzy guitar and shifting hip-hop rhythms heard on brief instrumental Analysis Paralysis – all experimental skitter and buzz, borrowing stylistically from lo-fi dance music. Waiting for Light, with its crackling beat and carefully plucked guitars comes across as a more astrally oriented Fleet Foxes, all layered, choral vocals, the subtle shimmer of ambient noises adding to the emotive aural landscape. They are unafraid to push sudden bassy invasions to dominant heights within the mix. This is music that feels like it is made by someone for whom TV and movie soundtracks matter, who pick up on the deliberateness of shifting sonic structures for dramatic impact. Again there is a knowing understanding, if not full application of dance music dynamics – the shifting rhythms and pulsating details demonstrating an erudite pop sensibility. Rhythms are regularly tinkered and toyed with, like John Parish’s early work with eels, but without E’s trademark gruffness. It’s all about the massed choral atmospheres here. 

Vast Paranoia builds wonderfully – full of textured atmospheres, dense and submerged as if the measured piano is being listened to from the bottom of the sea. The vocals are reverb-soaked and breathy – rich in emotion without ever feeling overly emoted. Flutes shift and weave delicately across the melody and something close to whale song seems to howl and moan sporadically in the background. Some of the early recordings of Gravenhurst spring to mind at times, particularly in the way the vocals catch at the limits of their range. Things reach full on sci-fi psychedelia  as the song reaches its conclusion, before ending in reflective quietude. A really beautiful moment. 

Internal Noise is a tremendous set of songs that I’m sure will get the wider attention it deserves; in the meantime, we hope you check it out. Those limited edition vinyls look mighty fine indeed. 

Written by M.A Welsh (Misophone)