Peals has never sounded like the work of two bass players (Future Islands’ William Cashion and Double Dagger’s Bruce Willen). 2013 debut Walking Field demonstrated a wide variety of influences, from ambient to surf rock, while showcasing the talents of cellist Kate Barutha. Seltzer is a different beast entirely, a pair of hypnotic half-hour tracks with a meditative sheen. Opener “Time is a Milk Bowl” is a live multi-media set recorded in the clock room of Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer Tower, incorporating the sounds of the streets and the elevator machinery. “Before and After” is a modern mixtape, a sound collage incorporating sounds from Peals productions old and new, in chronological order. Each track possesses its own alchemy, but together they form a seamless whole.
While listening to “Time is a Milk Bowl”, one cannot help but imagine the pops and clicks as parts of the clock, rather than as parts of the elevator. And yet, no actual strikes or gongs are heard, as glockenspiels and chimes fill the role. The irony is that the manner of this performance – improvised, exploratory, reactive – places it outside time, warping the perception. A series of 30-minute videos from Zoe Friedman made this a particularly unique event, as attendees were immersed in sight and sound. Include this on the list of all-time concerts that we wished we had been able to attend. At least we have the music, a mesmerizing set that begins with bright chimes and ends in percussive ticks and tocks, graced by bright melodic movement.
The first few seconds of “Before and After” link it to Side A. The chimes return, accompanied by a bird that sounds remarkably like a cuckoo clock. But then the sounds shift to ping pong balls and yes, the BASS! At this point we remember Cashion and Willen’s specialty, and it’s a testimony to their diversity that they are able to hold out so long. Eastern timbres abound, lending the collage a spiritual, temple-like nature. Like its predecessor, “Before and After” deals with the transcendence of time; the sly title, in association with the mix, implies that there is no before and after; there is only the long now. Past, present and future are unfolding at once, and Seltzer is their effervescent score. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 27 January