A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Hamburg ‘dream punk’ trio Seasurfer return with their thrashiest yet most beautiful and soothing statement to date. The soundtrack for the revolutionary dreams.
The originators of both shoegaze and dream pop were sometimes criticized for being too precious twee – soundtracks for introspection, romance, introspection and fantasy when the politicized, testosterone-driven sounds of Grunge were starting to take over the airwaves. Some of those criticisms are apt – being the sound of white privilege or lifestyle accessory, of looking fabulously despondent while having the world laid out at yr feet. Sonically, some of these attributes would come across as being TOO distant; TOO glassy + ethereal – like a two-year long LSD hangover, where yr left not knowing what’s real and what’s the moving chaos inside one’s own head.
The 21st Century, with all of its itinerant technological explosions, has been kinder to Shoegaze/Dream Pop than most genres, bringing with it both continual, 24/7 access to all of the best, dreamiest albums and artists of former eras, as well as cheaper and more readily available access to better quality musical tools. This kickstarted a sort of third wave Shoegaze revival, with bands like A Place To Bury Strangers, Have A Nice Life, and Ringo Deathstarr picking up where The Jesus And Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine left off.
Seasurfer is the newest project from Dark Orange‘s Dirk Ritter. Dark Orange’s ethereal beauty here becomes more biting, edgier, thrashier, faster – thus, more ‘dreampunk’ than ‘dreampop’, as Ritter told indie/punk magazine The Big Takeover in an interview a few years ago. Not only is Under The Milkyway… Who Cares? more in line with the more muscular shoegaze sounds of the Shoegaze Revival, but it also bears allegiance to more mainstream dream pop like Beach House or Pure Bathing Culture, meaning perhaps the world is finally ready to receive Seasurfer’s benediction.
Things start with a bang with album opener “Tricolore”, kicking off with a thrashier, almost grinding beat, with new vocalist Julia Beyer’s gauzy vocals peering through the strobelit cacophany, almost unintelligible French vocals becoming like Jonsi’s ‘hopelandish’ or Liz Frazer’s nonsensical dark fairy tale language. The gloom parts for “Too Late For Goodbyes”, with its singsong millenial war cry levitating over a catchy, melodic wall of guitars. “Too Late For Goodbyes” has real crossover potential, maybe finally earning Seasurfer a spot on summer festival stages the world over, where they would likely be rapturously received. “Falling,” however, is pure, classic dark, doomed romantic shoegaze, with guitars stretched to infinity like cotton candy clouds over a bruised skyline. It’s beautifully emotive, with just a hint of danger and menace, like an aftertaste of strychnine in the punch bowl.
Most of Under The Milky Way… Who Cares? falls between these polarities – dangerous, dark and intense and gorgeously beautiful, aching, and romantic – sometimes within the same song! “When You Leave” emanates wistful longing, while drums rage and seethe like screaming sinews and muscles – perhaps the soundtrack for long, sleepless nights, mulling over memories.
The time has come to reconsider the poltics of Dream Pop, in light of dreampunk. While former eras might have been aiming for escapism and abandon, these days we can dream about ANYTHING. Dirk Ritter set out to blend the gossamer sounds of Shoegaze with a love of catchy, intense punk rock like The Ramones. Instead of dreaming of fields of flowers, these are dreams of safety pins and molotov cocktails. Dreams of a REAL revolution, fading with the dawn but leaving the lingering call-to-arms in your cobwebbed, sleep-fugged brain.
There needn’t be a separation between the personal and the political – between the emotional and intensity. Anger Is An Energy, after all. So dream of a better world while letting Hamburg’s Seasurfer help you imagine a better, brighter, yet still shadowed world that is both fashionable yet engaged.
Seasurfer – Under The Milkyway… Who Cares? is available on vinyl and digital via Saint Marie Records!
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Tune into every Sunday night/Monday morning for Morningstar: The Light In The Darkness @ Freeform Portland! Exploring the dark side of techno, hip-hop, shoegaze, metal, psych, folk, and soundtrack. You can listen to the archives online at mixcloud.com/for3stpunk.
In Portland or the PNW and want more dreamy tones? My band, Meta Pinnacle are playing tomorrow night with a bunch of other fabulous dreamy bands as part of ‘An Evening Of Dream Tones’ at Valentine‘s! Come out and tell yr friends!