Musée Mécanique

From Shores of Sleep

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Following Musée Mécanique's full-length debut, Hold This Ghost, by a full six years, 2014's From Shores of Sleep was conceived not only as a full album but as a single piece. Songwriters Micah Rabwin and Sean Ogilvie constructed the ten songs with a journey in mind. The result is a concept album described on its crowdsourcing web page as "a story of sails and shorelines, seas and dreams." As also reflected in the title, a maritime theme and imagery run throughout the record, amongst lyrics of anticipations, endings, and the adventures in between: "Let's go sail along the shore a while/Brother, we can race the rowers and the steams/Herons and the eagles cross the amusement park/Where we can ride the carousel." The course is an impressionistic one through a series of vignettes more than through any discernable plot, and the watery lyrical landscapes mesh with the band's atypical orchestral folk musical palette to achieve a dreamy, escapist ambience. Employing a wide range of instruments, including electric guitars, synths, strings, woodwinds, glockenspiel, French horn, and more -- even sounds of water ("The Open Sea") and gulls ("Along the Shore") -- the colorful but not cluttered sound is diligently arranged by Ogilvie and Rabwin and mixed by studio veteran Tony Lash (Elliott Smith, Hellogoodbye). They achieve lushness with a still tangible, folky substance; ghosts of traditional music creep through, as on the stomping rhythms and distinct saw and accordion sounds in "A Wish We Spoke." The album's melodies are often restrained, its character built more from timbres, layers, progressions, and rhythmic transport. "The World of Silence," a sonically complex carousel waltz, has brass, electric guitars, accordion, strings, and percussion among the bricolage that builds, then falls away to a single, unresolved piano chord. The relatively sparser "Along the Shore" centers on arpeggiated piano and acoustic guitar, though they're never alone; the ambient, vibrating seascape is always near. Musically symbolic water (on occasion, literal, via recordings) carries the listener on waves from track to track, making for an accomplished symphonic poem, or at least an indie pop version of one. For any seeking diversion, From Shores of Sleep is a destination as much as a set of songs. "Through the swaying coral groves/Brushing past the stones/And drifting 'neath the greenest shade of canopies/Casting shadows as we roam."

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