Evocative pieces and short, narrated scenes are the heart of Gisburg's second Tzadik release Shadows in the Sea. The album opens strong with "Low-End"'s confident walking bass joined by Gisburg's voice soaring in the background, while narrator Jeff O'Malley paints a Raymond Chandler scene. The next piece is piano and vocals, with Gisburg's voice by no means at the level of control as that heard on a later release, Trust. She draws from texts for a few selections: "The Woman Is Perfected" uses a Sylvia Plath poem, and it is the first of this release's four exercises in non-repetitive repetitions. Later, text from Salzburger Heimatkundebuch is used in "I'm Winter," while track 11 uses excerpts from W. Majakowski's Bruchstucke delivered in broken musical parts. Another working concept in this project is imaginary movie music. These include the first and last pieces ("Low-End" and "W.A.L.S.C.H."); track seven, "Saturnspacemonsters Walking on A...," with its Soothing Sounds for Baby-plus-UFOs soundscape; and "Night," which showcases the really wonderful aspects of her voice as she duets with the violin through high notes and throat hums. Gisburg is wonderful, but Shadows in the Sea is the least realized of her albums to date.
AllMusic Review by Joslyn Layne