As  someone who appreciates the isolation and rugged scenery of the more remote coastal locations around the UK the title and cover photo of this CD album  attracted my attention right away and promised ambient-drone with a hint of salt in the air and sea-washed sounds….I was not disappointed.

This is Gareth Hardwick’s third album and the first full length work of new material since 2006.  A Nottingham musician, Gareth saw his first release on the Low Point label in 2006 and he has gigged his sound widely in the Midlands, London  and Europe since 2005.

The new album was conceived over four months during the harsh winter of 2009/10 and clearly takes its inspiration from the wide open vistas of estuaries and rocky shoreline.  Although previous works largely consisted of guitar driven drones created by multiple effects and sound manipulation the latest album introduces an array of new sound sources including harmonium, cymbals, chimes, dictaphone and radio.

According to the album flyer material the music draws upon the cyclical nature of the tides and the forces of nature that regulate the oceans and this is immediately apparent in the first track where effects laden guitar and harmonium chords ebb and flow amid sounds of estuarine birds. You immediately drift off into that landscape of weathered maritime hulks and desolate estuarine marsh portrayed on the album cover. Later in the track the sound of the chimes mixed with a field recording of the sea and wind give you the impression that you are standing in the doorway of one of the battered wooden artists retreats on the beach at Dungeness looking out across the pebble strewn landscape.  Intentionally or not, there is some great soundscaping going on here!

The second track opens with a dynamic drone of swirling guitar which fades to radio static before a harmonium drone takes over with field recorded sounds reminiscent of clanking boatyard activity playing out the first part of this track.  The middle section of the track is quite ethereal with a sort of ghostly whispering in places and rising chords over a brittle background drone resembling violin. The end of the track plays out wonderfully with the sound of cymbals crashing in gently  like waves on a rocky shore.

At 36 minutes in total length this album is pure escapism for fans of the sea and shoreline and comes highly recommended.

Of the Sea and Shore by Gareth Hardwick. Low Point LP035. Mastered by Taylor Deupree. Limited run of 300 copies. £8.50

http://www.low-point.com/LP035.html

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