I often believe that there is an accompanying geography to any given piece of music, whether apparent on the surface or buried deep in the psyche of the work. On The Boats’ Los Musicos Perdidos, the geography is striking. Reverb and tremolo heavy, yet crisp guitars and soft-brushed snares illuminate sagebrush covered flatlands and jutting plateaus defined by drenching, unrelenting sun. The curiosity here is that the geography of Los Musicos Perdidos is most readily identifiable as American, at least the West and Southwest. However, The Boats hail from Melbourne, Australia. Having never been to Australia, I can only imagine that there are similar landscapes with which to relate their sound to. On "The Sea is in The Boat," guitars softly duel as a pair of gunslingers reluctant to draw first. Instead, they dance awhile, awaiting the other’s move with light cymbal work as spurs underfoot. There is hope in their tone, tinged only by the pragmatic knowledge that an end must come. The slow, rising horns of "Little Black Rays Of Hope" immediately call to mind Ennio Morricone and the undying butt of a cigarillo cornered in the thin lips of a lone drifter. Then there are the slow clacking castanets and shakers of "Strawberry," a song that is undeniably the soundtrack to a tracker hunting down a fugitive. Violin slinks along the ground like a rattler idly passing the hooves of the tracker’s horse, and when he spots his target, the tempo surges as the chase is on.
All the while, coursing through the eight songs, which average out at nine minutes apiece, there is an arid heat that boils all about. It is anticipation, alertness, hyperawareness in a vast emptiness filled by the sounds of despair. Part of what is amazing about this continuity of mood in sound is the evident freedom by which it was produced. According to what little is written about this band, they loosely compose pieces and fill in the rest with improvisation. It works quite well, because there are only a couple little minutes of meandering. Most noticeably in "Warmth From A Window," when they shift between motifs on a chord change and the piano seems to be struggling to find its place. However, it does and the song remains relatively unharmed, as does their particular sound. A sound that is unafraid to point to its influences like friends in the crowd. There are certainly touches of Red Sparowes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and the most recent manifestation of Do Make Say Think contained in Los Musicos Perdidos. While The Boats are certainly unabashed at playing to their influences, they do not become engulfed by them. Nor are they swallowed by the unforgiving geography of their sound. -Gabriel Bogart (Silent Ballet)
released November 10, 2007
Recorded live to analogue quarter inch tape by Nick Conolly during 2004.
Overdubs recorded during 2005 and 2006 by Nick and Jona .
Mixed by Nick Conolly and Jona Byron.
Mastered by Adam Dempsey at Jack The Bear's Deluxe Mastering Jan 07 .
Performed by The boats
Nick Conolly - guitars, loops, bass, piano, organ
Jona Byron - guitars, loops, bass, keyboard, samples
Paul Guseli - drums & percussion
Rae Howell - Vibraphone on 'Strawberry', and trumpets and mellophone on 'Los Musicos Perdidos', 'Little black rays of hope' and 'Asylum'
Alistair Watts - bowed bass and cello on 'Asylum' and '2 am' and 'Strawberry'.
Produced by the boats. Released independently in November 2007 and through Big Rig Records in 2008.
The Boats are an atmospheric, dynamic and stunning instrumental experience. The trio formed in early 2003 and quickly developed their own unique sound; combining vintage guitars, drums, piano and bass to create sonic sketches and soundscapes.