Thursday, 14 July 2016

EP: Variant Sea - Fable

Variant Sea Fable

Info: Fable is the second EP from Dublin-based duo Variant Sea (Luke Duffy & Shell Dooley), the follow up to last years powerful and moving debut, Season of Mists. Duffy (piano) & Dooley (guitar), only collaborating since September last year, work 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.

Fable retains its predecessors delicacy and power to move you, and move you it does, which I shall come to in more detail. Opening track 'Wildwoods' is a little darker in the mood it creates, its lamenting build-up bringing you to an assertive piano crescendo just before the 4-minute mark. In a recent review of the single I noted that; "'Wildwoods' somehow moves beyond that (atmospheric) description and far into the distance. It's cinematic and heartfelt, and almost painfully gentle, piano and guitar take turns in consuming each other, then moving apart, and back again in a sad embrace."

With 'Eventide' it's impossible to escape Variant Sea's classical background which also flickered aplenty on Season of Mists, it's like a contemporary reworking of Chopin which drifts past the free expression of Keith Jarrett, and all the while the bow trembles patiently and obediently, but by no means subserviently, on Dooley's guitar strings. 

With 'Wildwoods' a close second, my moment of VS euphoria occurs on 'The Wolves', everything sounds and feels perfect here, tempo, upswings, the unusual but real relationship between artists and song, you can feel the respect both have for something they themselves have created. If you can't hear beauty resonating constantly in little and grand ripples throughout the track then I'm afraid your soul may be expired. 

On closing number, 'Remains', Variant Sea are at their transcendental best, it's like standing alone at the mouth of a cave and calling out into the never-ending darkness, this is what the response would be. At times it feels like the music is hewn out of some ancient stone and pours freely from their instruments across the land. 

To quote Keats; 'a thing of beauty, is a joy forever', and so it is with the second (and indeed first) EP from Variant Sea, the two melded together would form a wonderful film score, (there were even times when I thought of Morricone's OST for Cinema Paradiso), and an even braver foray on their next outing will reap ever greater rewards.

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