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Sea Scouts - Beacon Of Hope

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Sea Scouts - Beacon Of Hope
Label: Zum
Format: CD

intro

The title of ‘Beacon of Hope’ is a deceptive one. There is little that is remotely hopeful on The Sea Scouts’ bleak, but powerful second album. Its suggestive title track implies at, but then eventual


The title of ‘Beacon of Hope’ is a deceptive one. There is little that is remotely hopeful on The Sea Scouts’ bleak, but powerful second album. Its suggestive title track implies at, but then eventually rejects possible redemption, and, over the course of its eight songs and forty plus minutes, The Sea Scouts’ paint a vision of relentless, unwavering horror ; endless, grey depression and solitary despair. The recently disbanded group , who in its lifetime drew comparisions with Sonic Youth, The Birthday Party and The Cure, was formed in the isolated Tasmanian capital of Hobart in 1994 and split up in February of this year, after playing a small set of final Australian farewell dates. The Sea Scouts’ debut album ‘Pattern Recognition’ was recorded in an afternoon in a kitchen in Hobart and was put out as a vinyl only release on the Melbourne independent label Chapter Music in 1996. It was subsequently re-recorded in a studio and was re-released as a CD in February 1999. ‘Beacon of Hope’ came out in November 1998 and, released in Australia on the band’s own Unstable Ape Recordings, is available in America and on import from the San Francisco label Zum. Images of death and isolation dominate ‘Beacon of Hope’, and this is encapsulated on the front sleeve of the CD which pictures an outer space alien stranded in a boat together with an aborigine, a race who were hunted and killed for sport by explorers, and who were made largely extinct in Tasmania by the middle of the nineteenth century. Skulls and crossbones have been printed onto the CD iself, while on the back of the album, in a reproduction of a wood carving, a horrified monster stares with terror and loathing at its own enswelled hand. The lyrics catalogues a whole series of frustrations and ills-disappointment and disillusionment with oneself and one’s friends ; failure of art or music to provide meaning ; the numbing catharsis of work and a desire to die. The music meanwhile is almost symphonic in its discordance, with bassist Alex Pope’s blunt and rough-edged chords bouncing and conflicting against band leader Tim Evans’ more harmonic guitarwork in a great sea of white noise and feedback. The vocals, which Evans and Pope both share, are often raised to a howled scream, while the drum rhythms of Monica Fikerle, who replaced original ‘Pattern of Recognition ‘ drummer Sara Libero in the group and who only started learning to play her instrument two weeks before joining The Sea Scouts, have a tom-tom tribal and primitive feel and add further tension to the mix. ‘Beacon of Hope’ is an album of naked wounds and sores, too grinding perhaps in its pessimism and nihilism for many tastes, yet, as with Nirvana or Joy Division, there is also a rare beauty in its confusion, a near glorious energy in its chaos. It is both a gripping and also in its own way a profoundly moving work. With a third and final set of songs due out for release later this year, The Sea Scouts are essential listening for all fans of discordant rock.



Track Listing:-
1 Song for Che
2 The Gate
3 Song with No Name
4 Beacon of Hope
5 The Nest
6 Inbuilt Obsolence
7 Winter Song
8 We're All Gonna Die



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