The Amber Sea

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The debut album by Myrmyr, a collaborative effort between Agnes Szelag and Marielle Jakobsons, finds the two musicians plus various kindred spirits and guests creating a kind of murk/drone/pop that avoids the usual hooks-plus-fuzz approach for a more multi-layered, arcane series of compositions. Both performers use a variety of instruments to create songs that feel like cryptic collages, the vocals on songs like the opening "Jurata" and "Silver Rooster" providing spare hooks over combinations of instruments like accordion and cello or plucked strings and sudden screeches of treble tones and much more besides. While both sing, often their vocals are wordless, letting the arrangements stand out more -- the guest reed and horn players on "First Seed" add sad jazz elegance to the composition, as sounds of insects and strange knocks in the background suggest an abandoned mansion, while the lengthy "The Sea Returns," with ten extra players, is even more of a rich listen, almost suggesting the 1994 recording of Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic at points, at another (following a dramatic swell of percussion) a music box gone chaotically mad. Meanwhile, on the more straightforward "Egle's Escape," the combination of a direct lyric about a strange, haunted romance and tense music that breaks suddenly into a "spinning and swirling" feeling, as the lyrics themselves put it, is breathtaking.

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