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Peals­
Seltzer Chloe Spencer , February 9th, 2015 15:59

What do you get when two of Baltimore's most prolific Wham City exports bang heads together for a side project laden with performance art, home recordings, living room stage set ups and a cassette only release? You get Peals, the unexpected love child of post punk band Double Dagger's, Bruce Willen and synth pop pioneers, Future Islands' William Cashion. A bolshy, anthemic mix up of both outfits might spring to mind, but instrumental debut album 'Walking Field' ran a mile from either influence and landed them perfectly on the serene American porch of a Coen Brothers film. In spite of the climbing commercial success of Cashion's Future Islands, both men appear to have found a peaceful solace in the drumless rhythms of Peals.

Their new album, Seltzer, has much of the same rejections of their former influences. Unavailable for download, the release comes as two 30 minute halves pressed onto cassette. The former is a linear, melodic, live performance with glockenspiels galore, and the latter is an elaborate piece made up of individual pieces of the Peals jigsaw.

The first side was recorded live back in 2013, in the clock room of Baltimore's Seltzer tower and performed alongside projections by Multimedia artist, Zoe Friedman. The piece, aptly named 'Time Is A Milk Bowl', chimes in like a ticking clock and starts off sounding somewhat like an amalgamation of Wanda Group and a child's music box. Slowly, it takes itself through various different phases and the lack of drums serves only to eliminate any distraction from the natural industrial atmosphere of the room. At certain points, the clicking of an old elevator in the building can be heard, as well as the whirring of the clock motors (which according to the band are hummed in the key of G).

Much of this album feels like watching Joaquin Phoenix speak to his Siri girlfriend on the train in a futuristic Los Angeles, or hearing Matthew McConaughey whisper "Come on, Murph", in Interstellar, and if we're going to stay on the subject of films, then perhaps if Drive was a warm-hearted, existential piece with a happy ending, this would be the score. I challenge you to listen to Seltzer without your imagination running away with you.

The album comes to a euphoric yet sombre climax, the click of a timer signalling the inevitable passing of time. These chimes connect side A and B and with the addition of bird song, and 'Before And After' begins the same way that 'Time Is A Milk Bowl' ends. Moments hint at The xx-esque guitar parts, and we finally hear the sound of a bass – clunky and deliberately fragmented. It sounds like a loop based guitar jam which stops and starts and tape clicks in all the right places. At some point towards the end, the same reassuring drone sound from the first half comes back in, and once again links it back to the beginning. It ends with the sound of the wind and waves. Admittedly, it doesn't possess the same tranquility as the first half or make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside like Walking Field, but 'Before And After' is playful and a showcase of everything that Peals are as a whole.

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