After some experimentation, I’ve decided that the best time to listen to Tidal is when one is unable to get to the beach. When one is able, one simply goes to the beach and experiences these sounds in person. This is instead an album for people who are landlocked, stuck at work or covered in clouds. All the expected sounds are here, for the most part unadorned, while additional sounds, not found at most local beaches, lend the disc an exotic tinge.
Slavek Kwi (Artifical Memory Trace) collected these sounds over a series of years, in locations ranging from Ireland to Canada, including a remote fishing village and a ghost settlement. These environments tend to be lonely, but any such sense is offset by the presence of numerous birds and sea creatures, including dolphins and whales, and a strange minute in the opening piece featuring a cat and snoring human. The liner notes are extremely helpful, directing the listener’s attention to sea otters and sand fleas, an abandoned quarry and a wooden church. Track 2 alone contains thirteen delineated segments. “Sea; gradually stormy” leads directly to “Crumbling iceberg”, which topples into “Works on wharf”. Some transitions are intentionally jarring, but for the most part the switches are smooth; the loud sound that suddenly ends is far less distracting than the one that suddenly begins.
There’s a lot to hear in a 77-minute work, perhaps more than necessary given the subject matter. Fortunately the work includes moments of surprise. A tea pot, a ticking clock and a crackling fire indicate that Kwi didn’t spend his entire vacation outdoors. Unintentional humor is also present, as the artist is no birdwatcher; “Sea-gulls and crows” is followed by “Invisible chirpy birds”, which is exactly what most people would call them. “Mystery creature” & “very active mysterious creatures” also make brief appearances. But for the most part, Tidal is dominated by the sound of the sea and shore: the environment of which we dream, even if we’re unable to get there. (Richard Allen)