Sunday, 18 June 2017

Single: Variant Sea - Hiraeth

Variant Sea Hiraeth


Info: Variant Sea are a Dublin/Reykjavik based ambient-post rock duo comprising pianist Luke Duffy and guitarist Shell Dooley. Working together to create visually inspired instrumental music, the pair have merged subtle piano melodies and turbulent multi-layered guitars to deliver a sound that is their own.

The duo have released two acclaimed E.P. records 'Season of Mists' and 'Fable', receiving praise from The Last Mixed Tape, Nialler9, The Irish Times, The Thin Air, Lyric FM and State Magazine.

Variant Sea are an act we have long held in the highest regard around these parts, with both their debut and sophomore EP's making our independent Irish EP of the Year lists for Season of Mists (2015) and Fable (2016). With pianist Luke Duffy making his way to Iceland last year and continuing to compose, and guitarist Shell Dooley working full-time with her band Montauk Hotel, it was a most pleasant surprise to find they had released a new single in the, unsurprisingly, beauty-filled 'Hiraeth'.

Hiraeth is an old Welsh word that is not directly translatable into English. In general it describes a longing or a melancholic nostalgia, a homesickness for a home which you can never return to, or a longing for an absent loved one which carries a repressed knowledge that the object of affection will never return. Now if that doesn't move you enough, the music itself will complete the job.

That's not to say that Variant Sea are intent on bringing us down, far from it, on their new single the beauty is a source of both reinvigoration of the soul and tangible hope. The sensual calm of the opening bars and gentle strings are like looking out on a motionless lake on a winters day. The breadth that the duo have allowed themselves over the track's 7 minute plus length is perfect in terms of leaving the desired impact on the listener. The build is careful and slow, but when it happens it doesn't creep up on you, in an unusual way it reveals itself with aplomb.

From the 4:35 mark VS have fully gone from serenity to that aforementioned invigorating feeling, it's like a minute but precise shot of joyfulness injected into your soul. This dream-like state ends in the final minute of 'Hiraeth' and Duffy and Dooley take us back to the edge of the lake at winter where we can reflect on their latest offering and wait impatiently for the next one simultaneously. As always, nothing but beautiful in the strictest definition of the word.


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