It’s not clear how many sounds remain in the archive left behind by Dani Baquet-Long, but this is the best work I’ve heard by her yet, so there may be more to come. Over the years, we’ve gotten used to hearing a blend of ambience and field recording, but never before so integrated and smooth. Credit Mathieu Ruhlmann for the mastering and the adding of “aural debris”. Another key to this recording’s success is its narrow focus ~ these are the sounds of the sea, building from near silence to a gentle roar. The hums and electronic waves create a counter-balance to the tiny crunches and guttural shifts, which often sound like icebergs scraping against each other or the scratches of a forager. Pings, pops and percolations abound, growing bolder by the minute. Here be monsters, rubbing against the hull.
Seasick isn’t what one expects: buoys, birds and gently lapping waves. The album is more like a soundtrack for Odysseus as he struggles to return home. Hidden dangers abound; sirens call; the protagonist is lashed to the mast. Only at the very end, after the journey’s roughest part, do we hear the sound of the waves shuttling against the shore. “Are you recording?” asks Dani, speaking to her husband Will. The mood is shattered, but in a welcome way: a single second that humanizes the entire affair. The clouds have not yet broken, but the people are safe on shore. Would they venture again into such darkness? Physically (for Dani) and metaphorically (for Will), they would, fulfilling Dani’s poem of premonition: we’ll leave this world as naked as when we entered into it, just shot through by its piercing beauty & sly unease, seasick, but somehow reconciled. Many of Chubby Wolf’s postmortem work has seemed like a tribute or continuation; this album, to its benefit, unfolds more like a requiem. (Richard Allen)