The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Seaming To
Dust Gatherers Irina Shtreis , February 10th, 2023 09:56

On her second album, Seaming To erases boundaries between reality and illusion, finds Irina Shtreis

In East Asian mythology, huli jing (Chinese), kitsune (Japanese) or the nine-tailed fox is a spirit capable of shapeshifting. This association comes to mind during a casual search for Seaming To on the internet. On the artist’s website, the front page displays her avatar – a gothic princess with plaits of her long dark hair tied to knobs of a musical instrument that looks like a church organ, loom and torture device at once.

Perhaps, such complex imagery sums up the idea of musicianship which can be a painful yet pleasurable practice. Dust Gatherers is Seaming To’s second full-length album. The London-based multi-instrumentalist has been producing music since 2006, exploring different dimensions. Her art can hardly be put into any box – the oriental ambient sound and jazz-tinged avant-pop approach of the earlier records, 2012’s EP Mermaid and debut album Seaming, can indicate artistic closeness to auteurs such as Björk and Susanne Sundfør but that’s only one facet of this unidentified stone.

While giving Dust Gatherers an initial spin, it’s hard to be certain of the music’s origin. Seaming To leads you to explore fantasy worlds that sometimes sound too intricate or alien to be made by humans. One might think of the contemporary magic of AI.

Still, otherworldly as it is, the music eventually gives a hint of where it comes from. There is a sense of kinship with Robert Wyatt and Meredith Monk. The former invited Seaming To to contribute vocals and clarinet parts to ‘Stay Tuned’ from his 2007s album Comicopera. Meanwhile, Dust Gatherers seems to draw from both wells – Wyatt-esque unabashed experimentalism and spirituality akin to Monk’s debut album Key pervade the record.

It starts with ‘An Overture’, an instrumental and impressionistic two-minute intro featuring wind chimes that dissolves itself into a drone of sound. The following ‘Blessing’ summons up the medieval chants of Hildegard of Bingen and goes on as a prayer: “May God bless us in sleep with rest, in dreams with vision, in awakening with a calm mind, in a soul with the friendship of a holy spirit”.

The album then sets off on a journey through myriads of visions, evoking distinct images. The undulating harmonies of ‘Hitchhiker’ conjure up a drive across a constantly changing landscape. Like most of the album, the track features strings and keyboards, taking off with bubbling synths that remind me of animated sci-fi films. Whatever elusive or strange thing Seaming To might be, the experience she offers you is always a thrilling one.