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Published: 2008/08/22
by Fady Khalil

We Belong to the Sea – Aderbat

Mountebank

Helming the indie-collective Aderbat stands Matt Taylor, the grainy voiced, wild-haired product of suburban Philadelphia often compared to contemporaries Josh Rouse and John Vanderslice. The natural songsmith of the quartet, Taylor displays a gifted ability to craft well-weighted compositions with at times direct, and others, poetically enigmatic lyrics and compelling music that never grates and engenders a category-defying quality, spurring a solid acceptance within many genres.

The album, produced and recorded by Ween collaborator Andrew Weiss is notably well-paced, retaining a listeners interest from beginning to end with little need to skip tracks, except when in need of immediate gratification from one’s favorites. Though often likened to the work of Nick Drake, We Belong to the Sea has its own unique quality, particularly in its adept usage of ambient sounds ala Radiohead, albeit much more reserved. While retaining a surprisingly clean auditory palette rarely muddied by over-playing, songs orbit around a folk center largely a product of Taylors guitar, yet often are spun towards an indie/pop axis by stirring musical highlights courtesy the ethereal sounds of guitarist Chris Covatta and keyboardist Chris Hendrix. Typified by Pilgrim, space is graciously provided for all instruments to tastefully move in and out of focus, with few moments of over-crowding even in the most energetic of passages. Restraint and balance comes by way of Kunkles discerningly well-apportioned bass lines.

Like walking through a dream mist, certain songs come into vision with an enthusiastic vividness returning to a coy distance, enthralling listeners — a quality highlighted on the title-track, We Belong To The Sea and Sick Delight. Lyrics circle standard themes of love and loss, but retain a unique originality by often entering into a world of abstraction, as in the surreal quality of song Eyeballs with Taylor singing in pseudo-slow-motion. Though many ballads throughout the 12 song project prove equally deserving, Busted Cars and No One Would Notice are natural candidates for radio play with their anthemic qualities and driving pulses provided by drummer Todd Scheid. Personal favorite, Up On a Hanger, harkens to a time passed in musical yesteryear with its simplicity and undeniable sincerity, and provides the folk end to the Aderbat spectrum.

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