Seamonster’s ‘Baldessari’ and the Found Sound

Seamonster make the sort of engaging, sunny pop music that usually isn’t all that difficult to get behind, but doesn’t have too long of a shelf-life. The brainchild of Adrian Todd Webb, the Virginia Beach band has a far more exploratory approach to the standard indie-pop fair. Their latest album is named after renowned found photography artist John Baldessari and Webb has stated that the album is directly influenced by his work. If you’re not familiar with Baldessari, his work involved the use of words and images he collected and pasted or painted onto canvass. To call the final project a collage would be shortchanging it. A collage usually carries the connotation of unoriginality, or at least misdirected appropriation. Baldessari is a collage only in the most general form of the word, “an artistic composition made of various materials.”

The album’s individual components are familiar, the melodies and instruments not being especially innovative. The levels of distortion used throughout the album aren’t especially common, but they aren’t especially new either. Where the album excels is at that intersection where experimental and pop music collide. Like Animal Collective, Deerhunter and others before them, Seamonster straddle the perilous divide to perfection. On “Normandy Landscape”, Webb’s arrangement nearly falls into cliched Fleet Foxes-esque territory, but avoids the pitfall with a subtle flute melody and perfectly arranged percussion. The songwriting is simple enough to be accessible, but doesn’t become trite after a few times over. Webb manages to compile found influences from across the experimental pop landscape and throw them onto his canvass with a seemingly careless precision. A solid remix package tops off the album, a little bit of found art in itself. This is rare album that is simultaneously a simple, enjoyable listen and a demanding sonic voyage.

Baldessari was released digitally back in August and is still available for download at name your price, but you can also pre-order the easter yellow 12″ now.

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