# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 8 / 2 / 2017

Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


Kimberly Bright examines the release, at last, of the Sea Nymphs' long-awaited second album from the early 1990s

Sea Nymphs fans have been whispering about the band’s lost second album, 'On the Dry Land', for nearly an entire generation now. The Sea Nymphs are the mellow, folky, psychedelic alter-ego of the legendary prog-punk band Cardiacs and their relentless sonic tornado. This band-within-a-band consisting of Tim Smith, Sarah Smith and William D. Drake, had already released a side project as Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Mr. Drake in 1984 before re-surfacing as the Sea Nymphs in 1991. This creative outlet allowed Tim to develop an entirely different facet to his songwriting. This quieter, otherworldly music which was never meant to be played live, was free to add more layers, overdubs and unusual instruments. The name was chosen due to their special emotional attachment to the sea, remarkably strong even for three island dwellers. The sea, other bodies of water, sea creatures, seafaring myths, and all things nautical are common themes in their lyrics. 'On the Dry Land' was recorded around the same time as their 1992 self-titled debut album, also recently released on vinyl. The idyllic, playful recording sessions took place on the gorgeous, mystical island Anglesey off the northwest coast of Wales. It was intended for release not long after the debut but was set aside due to Cardiacs commitments and then simply not revisited for reasons never explained. The band included a few of the songs in their live shows in the early ‘90s, and three in particular: 'Eating A Heart Out', 'The Sea Ritual' and 'Sea Snakes Beware' (plus 'Lilly White’s Party' from their first album) were played on John Peel’s Radio 1 show on 4th October 1998, giving listeners a glimpse of the fabulous album that was to follow. The much-anticipated but unexpected surprise of 'On the Dry Land' will delight fans who have been waiting for new releases since the Cardiacs 2007 single 'Ditzy Scene', which came out only a year before Tim Smith’s tragic stroke and heart attack in 2008. Obviously any new Cardiacs and Sea Nymphs material took a backseat to Tim’s recovery and well-being and is all the more precious. His health improved enough that he was able to oversee additional recording to complete the album beginning last year with Sarah and William. These maddeningly short songs ooze colorful, lush eccentricity, the ethereal, dreamy 'Mirmaid’s Purse', the quirky incorporation of poetry from Gerard Manley Hopkins 'Heaven Haven' and Gerard Daley’s 'A Sea Ritual', William’s possessed piano playing, Sarah’s childlike, sometimes disturbing vocals and Tim’s sardonic humour on 'Liberated and Handsome' and 'Big River' ("Take extra care / With all the precious stuff we try to handle / Without special care”). His delivery is reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock and Roy Harper at their wittiest. Sarah sounds like a malevolent broken bisque china doll or a haunted pixie channeling the Cocteau Twins, particularly on 'Eating A Heart Out' and 'Sea Snake Beware', a wonderful, almost sing-songy duet with William that eases into an interesting, weird piano and strings interlude. 'The Sea Ritual' is further disjointed psychedelic carnival music for elemental spirits that falls apart bit by bit, ending in chaos. The wonderfully named 'Wanky', the last track, made a brief appearance in the Cardiacs film 'All That Glitters Is A Mare’s Nest'. Even Michael Chapman’s simple cover art is gorgeous. The wonky, circus-like 'Black Blooded Clam' was inspired after a sunny day at the beach making sandcastles while working on Anglesey. The three hauled wheelbarrows full of sand into the middle of the living room where they were staying, spent the evening dancing, building an enormous sand and found objects sculpture and then pushing each other into the heap, according to Sarah’s recent interview for Prog magazine’s feature about the band. The entire album, but 'Black Blooded Clam' in particular, would be a perfect on a soundtrack for a future wonderfully off-kilter Neil Gaiman film, especially one featuring dancing nerieds singing atop mist-shrouded waves. In his first interview since his health crises, Tim told Prog (answering questions on a keyboard) “On The Dry Land was always on my mind but there’s so much more of Sea Nymphs stuff to be finished whenever we can find the box or whatever it was we buried it in.” Hopefully there are more buried treasures to be uncovered by the shoreline.

Track Listing:-

Picture Gallery:-
Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land

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