Soul Whirling Somewhere

Eating the Sea

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In the early '90s, the Projekt label scored a striking trifecta by bringing three different and fascinating bedroom-studio acts from Arizona to wider attention via strong debuts -- Lycia, Lovesliescrushing, and Soul Whirling Somewhere. Michael Plaster, the person behind the last act, produced such a beautiful, reflective album in Eating the Sea that it almost seems like the result of an artist with many releases' worth of experience. With gentle guitar, understated rhythm tracks, and spectacularly rich, lush keyboard washes -- something more than anything else that explains the Projekt connection, being not that far removed from the evocative work of fellow Arizona denizen Steve Roach -- Plaster creates a delicate, meditative collection. A semicomparison might be to the similarly underappreciated work of Butterfly Child, but unlike Joe Cassidy Plaster tends to let his voice disappear into the mix, with slightly more straightforward arrangements. The slow, deliberate build of "Not Breathing" into a lovely balance of heavily echoed acoustic guitar over calm, steady synth flows and the sad space-signal chimes of the treated electric guitar on "I Dream We Are Blind" handily demonstrate his ability with those arrangements. "Wish" lets Plaster focus on his keyboard work -- the combination of a soft, descending melody and his voice seeming to rise from forgotten depths works wonders, a combination that doesn't quite sound like much else. "Swim" aims for a more ambient style (though the melody is there at its heart, simple but very dreamy), while Plaster's singing takes center stage in comparison, gentle but not overly twee or light, say. "You'll Tear Me Away From You" is the album standout, with Plaster's typical calm instrumental beginning leading to a softly loping, melancholic arrangement, his yearning voice the perfect addition.

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