Seasurfer: Under the Milkyway... Who Cares (Saint Marie Records, 2017)

Seasurfer: Under the Milkyway… Who Cares (Saint Marie Records, 2017)

by Jason

Seasurfer is a German shoegaze band based in Hamburg. Formed in 2013, Dirk Knight, formerly of Dark Orange, has gathered a number of musicians over the course of the band and, currently, is joined by new vocalist Julia Beyer (Chandeen) and bassist Volker Zacharias (Cassandra Complex, Girls Under Glass). Under the Milkyway… Who Cares is the follow up to Dive In and it’s their sophomore effort. Ten tracks of dreamy, oft times explosive, dreampop and shoegaze, Under the Milkyway is aptly described by Knight as dream-punk.

Under the Milkyway… Who Cares begins its spacy journey with “Tricolore”. It’s a raucous assault on the listener as they blast off into the musical journey Seasurfer has prepared for the listener. The drums pound into the speakers with an aggressive beat while the bass provides a thunderous floor. The guitars growl in a sea of fuzz. Beyer speaks in French “Je suis vraiment bien las de vos horribles guerres” (I am really tired of your terrible wars). The continued dialogue speaks of peace and the need to put down the foolishness of war. This brief opener brilliantly sets the mood for what’s to follow. “Too Late for Goodbye” doesn’t let up on the aggression as swirling walls of fuzz and high hat dancing percussion explodes into the speakers. Beyer’s dreamy vocals soften the edge, playing as a wonderful foil to the fast-paced music. She even phrases her vocal patterns in a slow cadence. This is a head-bobber as slightly fuzzy bass and dense walls of sound flow in the background. As the throttle is fully open at the beginning of this album, “Falling” eases the throttle a bit back and gives the listener a moment to breathe.

“Falling” begins with dreamy vocals that sit in a fuzzy, deeply throbbing blanket of sound. The tempo is measured and careful, with layers of spacy guitar moving about under the vocal track. There is a sense of euphoria in the music of this song that is reflected in the lyrics as Beyer sings “Here, in the distance/Immersing in time/We yield to rapture, a sweet surrender/A strange adventure into the yonder”. The first vocal line captures the listener and leads them into a memorable blissed out odyssey. “If You Leave” emerges with swirling fuzz and erupts into spacy synths and pounding percussion. Beyer once again plays the foil to the more aggressive musicscape as her beautiful voice floats among the instruments. The layers go deep, with warbling guitars, heavy synth work, and another deep bass floor.

“Daydream” moves into a minimalist soundspace with synth drones and sparse guitars. The drums and bass enter the mix, slow and careful, never overpowering Beyer’s yearning vocals. In the larger ebb and flow of the album, it acts as a calming moment, contemplative and rich. “The Road We Take” opens with an almost Slowdive feel but that quickly ends as the fuzz erupts and the percussion begins a medium tempo, moving between a high-hat heavy beat to a more aggressive feeling tone. Dreamy synths float about the soundscape as guitars are layered over one another to create that shoegaze density. At times, the wall of sound parts and Beyer shines as her vocals take center stage. The track ends in drones and reverb-laden vocals that blend without pause into “By the River”.

“By the River” returns the listener to our voice speaking in French. It’s a track that moves along at a good clip, thrust forward by the thumping bass work. The vocals move from spoken word French to melodic English. Seasurfer has this way of infusing a wall of sound with structurally brilliant pop and punk aesthetics. There is a catchiness to their songs that gets one moving. “Confusion” begins like a Ramones style punk song with raunchy guitar which eventually runs into layers of guitar, driving bass, and hard hitting percussion. There is also a bite to Beyer’s vocals on this song. This is the most aggressive track on the album and it’s glorious. Perhaps the Who Cares in the title of the album has its birth right here in “Confusion”.

“Symétrie” shimmers into the speakers with a thumping, subtle beat, glistening synths, and a fog of fuzz floating about while Beyer sings a melody over the amorphous soundscape. The percussion begins to become fuller as a swelling wall of noise begins to erupt and then the track fades. It’s a beautiful, brief piece leading to the finale. “Trust the Path Unseen” is the beautifully written finale to Under the Milkyway. Drones float about while guitars sparkle, leading into the full band joining into the mix. It’s a slow moving, Slowdive-esque piece laden with the fuzz that is ever present in Seasurfer’s work. It’s a perfectly placed track to finish out this gorgeous album.

Under the Milkyway… Who Cares is made up of all the things which a shoegazer fan dreams. Seasurfer has produced an album that is lofty, ethereal, aggressive, dense, minimalist, and emotive throughout. A mixture of the dreamy waves and ethereal walls of sound from Cocteau Twins and the in your face post-punk of likes of Joy Division, Seasurfer have produced what might be a new classic in the shoegaze genre. Only time will tell.

Buy now at Saint Marie Records.

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