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  Take Us By Sea  
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In a sense, this EP is the sequel to One Hand Loves the Other. That album was made by a DJ named Mikey and a soul-singer named Lou, with the able assistance of keyboardist Nancy and cellist Mary. Well, old Lou has gone the way of the buffalo, and the band has restructured itself with a new name. They have added a drummer named Brett, and all three of the original members now share vocal duties. This is their debut release under this lineup.

Now, attentive readers of this site will know that i have a sort of love/hate relationship with this act. Specifically, i love their records and hate their inefficient live shows (like the problems at The Other Sound 2007, or when they delayed an Octopus Project set). And yet, that One Hand Loves the Other album was amazing! Well, this is another great recording from the band. Maybe they should consider becoming a studio act? (In the interest of full disclosure here, i have been communicating online with cellist Mary about this issue, and they are aware of their live performance problems. I have been assured that both of the times that i happened to catch them were when things went their worst, and that normally their shows are much smoother. Time will tell if this is the case…)

So let's consider this EP. There are six songs for a total of just under a half-hour of music. Let's go over the songs.

We start off with Exit, a tune that begins with a stuttering laptop noise before drums, strings, and lovely female vocals come in. A keyboard melody tinkles along with the strings, creating a nice interplay, and Mary and Nancy sing together, their voices intertwined. I really like the way the strings and the drumming complement the electronic feel of the tune. A good start.

Now, Lou may be gone from the band, but it appears that not all of these songs come from the post Lou period. Wait features Lou on lead vocals over a clattering industrial laptop beat and a nice synth drone. Nancy and Mary again sing counterpoint to Lou's soulful vocals, and the cello keeps a nice rhythm. This is a great tune, and fans of One Hand Loves the Other will be able to see how what Tealights are doing relates to the work of that act. I guess this is the transitional song, and a good one it is.

Passport starts with the cello backed by laptop beats for a full minute before a female voice comes in. I am not sure which is Mary and which is Nancy, but whichever one this is has a nice voice that reminds me of Heather Duby, only slightly less husky. The percussion here is a nice frenetic scattering of beats, almost drum and bass style, and the cello and the keyboard again interact in a nicely contrasting fashion. This is similar to Exit in execution and structure.

On Clouds, Tealights take it down a notch. This starts with a nice droning organ sound, and Mikey singing in an almost soulful manner. He is not quite the voice talent that Lou is, but you can hear him reaching for a similar effect. He can't quite pull it off on his own, but fortunately the two female voices join in, and together they contribute to a lovely vocal for this song. It picks up the pace about two-thirds of the way along, with bass and drums complementing an echoed guitar and the keyboard. The tempo of this last half is great, and in general i really like the way this song develops.

Wasted Fingers is the darkest tune on the EP. The two female voices sing in an oddly clipped way that reminds me of Ladytron, and they are backed up by dark deep synth washes and trip-hop beats. It's a good tune, but not exactly upbeat. Mary and Nancy sing together really well here.

And finally we wrap things up with No Sound To Hear. The lead female voice here reminds me of Delores from the Cranberries. I think that this is a different female voice than on Passport. Again, i am not sure which is Nancy and which is Mary, as they sent me a download of the EP and i have no liner notes. At any rate, this is a sparse song, the lead female voice soaring in front and the other singing a nice backing melody under some light acoustic guitar and staccato cello riffing. And then, at the halfway point, it goes all laptoptronic, with stuttering beats and soaring synth waves, before adding in a flute solo. It is an interesting transition, and i find this song is made all the more compelling for it.

In summary, i find this to be an interesting EP. There is a lot going on here, and i do enjoy what the band are doing. They are making music that combines electronica and rock and classical in ways that seem very new and fresh to me. I hope they keep it up, just like i hope to one day see a live performance that lives up to the promise that shows on their recordings.

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