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Design By Humans
Published On: Mon, Jun 15th, 2015

British Sea Power: Sea of Brass

sea of brassBritish Sea Power
Sea of Brass
(Golden Chariot Records)

Among their fans, British Sea Power are known for taking on projects that result in unique performances. Last year, the band toured the UK accompanied by some of the country’s leading brass bands. That experience has been captured on Sea of Brass, which includes tracks from throughout the band’s history.

For the most part, the augmentation is a charming addition to British Sea Power’s back catalog. Frontman Jan Scott Wilkinson’s delivery is often breathy and subdued, so the horns add a new dimension of depth and drama. “A Wooden Horse,” for instance, was on the band’s first LP, but here it seems cinematic and epic. The distorted, melancholy vocals on “Atom” play well with the backing music, and as the track progresses, there’s a clever balance between new wave-tinged post punk and the orchestral elements. It’s no surprise that the instrumental tracks work best here. “Heavenly Waters” is gorgeous, while the horns on “The Great Skua” leave enough room for the guitar to be prominent. The song builds to choral vocals and cymbal crashes that make you feel like you’re sitting in the audience.

If there’s a complaint I could lodge with Sea of Brass, it’s that the more delicate songs are sometimes overwhelmed by the brass. “Smallest Church,” for instance, loses some of its impact as the horns drown out all else. However, this also shows off the risks and rewards of taking on this collaboration live rather than in a studio where a producer could mix and mask. Overall, Sea of Brass is a satisfying record that celebrates music above all else.

You can purchase the album here.

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British Sea Power: Sea of Brass