Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle - Perils from the Sea - album review

Perils from the Sea is a collaboration between Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon and solo) and Jimmy LaValle (The Album Leaf). 

The material consists mostly of sparse synths and electronic percussion, leaving plenty of room for Kozelek's voice. The instrumentation is repetitive but with a hypnotic quality which is all down to LaValle while Kozelek handles the lyrics and vocals. The style probably lends itself to those who like to sit down and listen to music.

The record opens with What Happened to my Brother, which sounds like a glorious 8-bit video game. On Gustavo, Koz's vocals sound weary but in a deliberate way, he has a husk that befits the music and the lyrics.

Whilst each track centers around a repetitive synth, keyboard or organ line, the array of sounds stops this record from being a one trick pony. I haven't seen any confirmation from LaVelle (who wrote all the music) but many of the compositions strike me as being influenced by Arvo Part's tintinnabuli style (I notice this mostly since Spiegel Im Spiegel is my favourite piece of music). 

Kozelek's vocals take an even more raspy and heartbroken tone in You Missed My Heart, which may be the highlight of the album.

Caroline sees us dip into the most familiar territory since it has a picked guitar lead, which slowly takes a backseat to the percussion and vocals, which include the now customary boxing reference! 

Even as a hardened fan, I've grown a little frustrated with Kozelek's almost exclusively finger-picked material of the last few years and countless live releases, so this record is quite the delight which only grows stronger with each listen. A victory for removing oneself from a comfort zone into new territory. 


1. What Happened To My Brother
2. 1936
3. Gustavo
4. Baby In Death Can I Rest Next To Your Grave
5. Ceiling Gazing
6. You Missed My Heart
7. Caroline
8. He Always Felt Like Dancing
9. By The Time That I Awoke
10. Here Come More Perils From The Sea
11. Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails

Perils from the Sea can be purchased from Caldo Verde records.