Landshapes – Sea Snail (Bella Union)

Landshapes – Sea Snail (Bella Union)

The first track from collaborative hybrids album Whale Song has been released by Landshapes – single Sea Snail is on the Bella Union label. 

Landshapes band imageArtist: Landshapes
Track: Sea Snail
Label: Bella Union
Released: 5 August 2020
Find it: Bandcamp

Now, here’s an interesting idea: the hybrid album. Somewhere between a collaboration and a remix Landshapes have set some music off into the world and it’s made its way via other artists to become an album.

That piece of music is single Sea Snail, and each time it was passed on the musician who received it would only hear the version created immediately before them. The stems and sounds become objects to be kept, adapted or included and unlike a remix successive versions don’t necessarily end up linking back to the original.

Explaining the idea behind it, and the projects Whale Song title, Landshapes said, “The project takes inspiration from the transmission of songs by humpback whales across the oceans. In this process, which is one of the most elaborate acoustic displays in the animal kingdom, hybrid songs are created when current songs, containing sequences and phrases are spliced together with similar sounds and phrases arranged in a similar pattern. This creates new songs, which are constantly changing over temporal distances in a process of cultural evolution.” 

Since the band started the journey back in 2014 different flavours creep in, the track adapts as it is changed further from this original, before finishing back with Landshapes for album closer Collapse. What comes out is fascinating results from an innovative approach. But let’s take it back to the beginning and the opener and original piece Sea Snail.

With a surf twang to the guitars, and washes of synth, a railroad rhythm and deep bass notes there is a hypnotic feel to the track. Tethered only by that beat you become an echo of yourself, floating before a crunchier riff lifts the track into a new level. There’s skiffle and surf rock and ambience all here. It wouldn’t sound out of place on the Twin Peaks soundtrack as flat out you stare up between the silhouettes of too-tall trees at psychedelic skies and wonder with curiosity where this song is journeying you to.

Auclair, Doomsquad, Rozi Plain and more all give their take on it, adapting and turning through the elements and sometimes more with feeling than sonic recognition of where this all began.

As a stand-alone track Sea Snail is a wonder and an instant favourite listen. As part of the wider project it’s a phenomenon which pushes the possibilities of collaborative music projects, pulls apart the components of a song and puts them back together in new ways, to create an album which is infinitely interesting as a listen and concept.

Find the whole Whale Song album on Bandcamp.

Find Landshapes: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp | Spotify

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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