Seahawks have always had their heads in the clouds — crafting hazy, laid-back nouveau New Age of the transcendental variety — but their work has historically been grounded with their feet planted firmly in the sand or their boats floating firmly atop smoothly swaying seas. Their marine-drone, ocean-gaze tunes, inflected with hypnotic rhythms, were always imbued with an earthly quality.
But with 2018’s Laraaji-featuring Eternal Beams and companion EP, Tears of the Deep, the British duo of Lo Recordings co-founder Jon Tye and visual artist Pete Fowler started phasing out the rhythmic pulsations to some degree — stripping away the sun-soaked Roxy Music undertones in service of a more ethereal goal. It’s as if an anchor that had kept their yacht not only floating in place but subject to the laws of physics had been removed, and the yacht was floating ever upward into the sky en route to another dimension entirely.
On their new album, Eyes of the Moon, which gets a Cascine release today, Tye and Fowler and guests have figured out a way to blend their two worlds into something more Seahawks than Seahawks: a full transition to another place of existence, crafting colorfully hypnotic pieces that melt away inside your head that are nevertheless anchored to engaging downtempo rhythms.
When I first started writing about Seahawks, such as back in this 2015 interview, I often discussed them in the context of serenity. Their music and the themes surrounding it suggested a laid-back, blissed-out and contented disposition. Back then, and in subsequent years, shit has hit the fan so often that we can’t smell it anymore, but there’s always the comfort of Seahawks. (Even when looking at their work as mere sun-soaked, ocean-bearing serenity, you’d learn quickly that their town was never Margaritaville. They’d be booted 20 feet into the municipal boundary.)
But with last year’s releases and this new album, Eyes of the Moon, I think I need to revise my interpretation of the role of the duo and their craft. It isn’t merely an escape, though that’s a part of their appeal. It isn’t merely the comforting sway of the waves rocking your sloop to and fro, although that too is a component. What’s really happening here is a holistic reset of the way humanity interacts with the world around us. Living creatures of all types are connected under the lunar gaze, our genes close to identical and our atoms all the same — derived from matter we share with celestial bodies. Together, our hopes, dreams, and intentions aren’t terribly misaligned, when you skim off the crust of the human condition.
If Eternal Beams contemplated the potential for humans to commune with our intelligent ocean-living friends the dolphins, and our inherent drive to fully understand ourselves in the context of other creatures and our own intentions, Eyes of the Moon represents a quest to find meaning and commonality across galaxies. We experience a sound bath of synthesizers and percussion, arpeggiating like Manuel Göttsching’s Ashra in mystical ecstasy in a sea of syncretic universality.
All of that ascendency still finds itself buoyed by the visceral serenity of past albums, to be sure, and that could be that rising above the corporal plane is more palatable in such a package. The beautiful bliss that unfurls from the particular blend of electronic music that Tye and Fowler have perfected over nearly a decade with their Seahawks project is a lovely vessel for these and other important messages. Let’s zoom in on some examples.
The entirety of the pieces on ‘Eyes of the Moon’ serve to further showcase Tye and Fowler as celestial shamans of audacious contemplation.
The title cut is a flanged arpeggiation of synths and a smooth mantra of sax that genuflect toward Luna like a moon salutation, sprinkled with a mist of ablution and disembodied chanting that all combine into a swirl of comprehensive elevation.
“Dancing Inner Space” is a glimmer of self-reflection in the eye of the divine, with contemplative guitar expressions and ambient synths washing one’s headspace while underneath a crescendo of djembe offers a transformative kinesis.
“Astral Echoes” is an ambient-electronic soundscape of voice, guitars, and sax, rinsed thoroughly in delicate splashes of humidity, shifting around kosmische arps that tap percussively at the dust from the stars. “Moon Bump,” which isn’t on the vinyl version (Seahawks releases are often expanded in digital form), is a dance of warm, glistening synths that flutter smoothly over and under each other with mathematical certainty.
Together, the entirety of the pieces on Eyes of the Moon serve to further showcase Tye and Fowler as celestial shamans of audacious contemplation who offer a tranquil bliss and reality-bending salve to a broad spectrum of discontented states of being.