Sunday, 1 April 2018

US AND THEM - ON SHIPLESS OCEAN (Mega Dodo LP, CD, D/L). US AND THEM - THE CORNER OF MY EYE/THE IRON MAIDEN (Mega Dodo 7” Single).

On Shipless Ocean is the second full-length long-playing album by Swedish duo Us And Them and if you are familiar with their debut album, Summer Green And Autumn Brown, as you’d expect, it’s a record laced with their unique brand of beautifully mellow Psychedelic Folk and gentle Folktronica. Britt Rönnholm, who sings, and Anders Håkanson, who plays the instruments, are masters of light and shade, ethereal translucent moments drift into rich dense textures, that evoke an autumnal stillness on a crystal-clear day. Delicate acoustic guitars are tempered by subtle electronica that adds a wash of modernity to a beguiling traditional Psychedelic Folk sound deeply inspired by the music of Sandy Denny, Donovan, Bert Jansch and Vashti Bunyan. With a limited edition 7” teaser for the album, ‘From The Corner Of My Eye; due for release mid April, On Shipless Ocean will be the first full release of mainly original songs from Us And Them for quite a while……………..'From The Corner Of My Eye' with the non album cut 'The Iron Maiden' on the flip is the perfect introduction to the new album with the previously sparse sound of Us And Them now filled out with beautiful string/woodwind arrangements and Mellotron. The single also comes with two non album bonus download tracks 'When Life Begins' and a beautiful cover of Bowie's 'All The Madmen'.

Since the release of Summer Green And Autumn Brown, which was possibly the most mellow record we have ever heard, Us And Them have spent studio time expanding their sound with lush textures…………it’s still jaw droppingly strange and beautiful but with with much more depth of sound. On Shipless Ocean gently ebbs and flows through 10 stunning tracks with the real highlights being the two exquisite near 10 minute long tracks where Us And Them really stretch out…………..Imaginative cover versions of classic Psychedelia and Folk are Us And Them’s thing and how they first caught the attention of the discerning music lover, closing side one there is a brilliant reworking of Kevin Ayers’ ‘Lady Rachel’ where they slowly deconstruct the song and then reassemble it in a strange new form. Taking Kevin Ayers original classic track as a mere sketch, Us And Them twist the tune into something barely unrecognizable keeping just the bones of the song adding synth washes and hazy spoken word as ‘Lady Rachel’ evolves into swirling Folktronica. The epic, sprawling closing track on side two, ‘Tail’, is a mesmerizing pastoral Psych tune that echoes the early 70s twisted Folk of Shelagh McDonald with a lush expansive string/Mellotron arrangement building then slowly fading out in a buzz of electronics . Fans of the previous Us And Them releases will not be disappointed with On Shipless Ocean as it is packed with some of the most drop dead gorgeous songs you are going to hear this year, but there is now real substance to what where quite fragile songs on the previous LP. Like a brilliantly coloured butterfly escaping it’s cocoon, Us And Them are changing from a stripped back Psych Folk/Folktronica duo into something with a much bigger sound that fully embraces their late 60s/early 70s influences but with one foot in the now…………..and it’s a truly intoxicating listening experience.

Due for release mid April by Mega Dodo Records, 'From The Corner Of My Eye' will be available as a limited edition (250 copies) 7" single and will shortly followed by On Shipless Ocean in June. Available on LP, CD (with two bonus tracks) and as a download the album, along with the single, is available to pre-order here………………..

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