Shearwater: Rook

Shearwater crafts a sound ideal for hours of drifting and immersion—Jonathan Meiburg's delicate specter of a voice, like the band as a whole, sounds ready to slip into some new shape at any moment. If Sun Kil Moon and The Black Angels can get away with 10-minute songs, so could Shearwater, and they'd probably make better use of that time.

The hell of it is that Rook navigates its ghoulish mist with brevity and sparseness, from the acoustic guitar-and-piano arpeggios of "I Was A Cloud" to the orchestral creaks of "Lost Boys." Rook never uses any one element too rigidly: The piano and guitar often seem to hold the structure down, but they often wander, and the drums are alternately spare and straightforward. The droning instrumental "South Col" and the piano doodles that end "On The Death Of The Waters" seem unnecessary, but don't trip things up, either. Most of these 10 songs run under four minutes, but even the seven-minute "Home Life" dissolves from one phase to the next at a deceptively listener-friendly pace.

This ambient, near-formless quality is really a means for sneaking humbly into the foreground. Meiburg's voice focuses each track on quietly bold melodies, strung through with excitement, wonder, and joy. They all bleed together on "The Hunter's Star," the perfect conclusion to Rook's balance of immediacy and elusive bliss.

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