Given the sailing theme of Maritime: Themes and Textures and the placidity of its opening notes, one may be reminded of Enya’s “Sail Away.” While the track has been overplayed, its calming impact upon release is remembered by all of a certain age. Cate Brooks’ return as Cafe Kaput recaptures that feeling. This is a particular type of sailing album: a reflection of a perfect day, when the wind is just right, the sail extends without effort and the boat is carried gently on the currents of wind and sea. But while specifically pointing toward sailing as an exercise (with titles such as “Easterly Four or Five”), the set also suggests an inner feeling, a placidity of mind, a peace that nestles in the heart like a roosting dove. Brooks calls it “an album of language,” but it might just as properly be called an album of spirit.
Perhaps unconsciously, Brooks also travels outside herself, asking how we feel “watching a lone boat on a calm sea.” This is the language not of the sailor, but of the person contemplating sailing, or distance, or the possibility of tranquility. The sailor, ironically, needs the wind, ideally between five and twelve knots, depending on the boat and the experience of the sailor. These tracks soothe the soul, reducing all turbulence, planting bells like buoys, eliminating any dangerous imaginings. “Light Vessel Automatic” increases the distance between notes like that between crests, or the time between one trial and the next. The bright “Inshore Waters” invites chimes to dance across the surface of the sea.
The calmest pieces, “Mid December” and “A Surface Like Glass,” arrive late in the set, suggesting a period of drift, followed by sunset and a safe journey home. But just as the album is about to dock, it hits its nicest surprise. At over nine minutes, the title track turns electronic and percussive, with a melody reminiscent of “Norwegian Wood.” Multiple patterns converge like the colors of a flag or shades of sky. The sail ends not in sleep, but in a dance, the sparkling synths an effervescent wake. (Richard Allen)