The Brooklyn newcomer's first album feels like the start of something that could last a long time.
Sometimes stillness can generate more revelations than any amount of frantic movement. Swimming Bell, fronted by Brooklyn's Katie Schottland, is proof of this; a project born of stagnancy, it seems poised to become something much larger.
Image via Ticketfly
Schottland's musical career began when a broken foot forced her to slow down, giving her the time she needed to learn guitar. She puts this skill to good use on her debut album, Wild Sight, which features full-bodied playing and a musical inventiveness that sets her apart from her many indie-folk contemporaries.
Wild Sight is a collection of unhurried songs that each travel far, reaching cosmic heights through softly psychedelic instrumental arrangements. The album feels made for driving home from the beach, for windy festival stages, for nights spent watching candles melt on screened-in porches. It's the sort of album that you can play over and over again, gathering new shards of wisdom or following different sonic paths.
One standout track is "1988," which layers Schottland's soft, strong vocals over light strumming and flickering arpeggiation. "Inside your language, I heard who you are," she sings, a line containing the kind of nuance and abstraction that characterizes the bulk of the lyrics on Wild Sight. "I was born inside your arms," she sings a variation on the themes of creation, love, and becoming.
'1988' by Swimming Bell www.youtube.com
Swimming Bell - 1988 | Sofar NYC www.youtube.com
Schottland is adept at spinning everyday experiences and tools into much vaster entities. One of her greatest strengths is her use of vocal harmony; over and over again at different points, waves of vocal lines gather together to form oceanic choirs. "Quietly Calling" is a great example of this, building up from nothing to hypnotic patchworks of sound. But she's strong on her own, too, with songs like "Left Hand Path" and "Love Liked You" guided forward by the lead vocal, steadfast amidst flustered peals of electric guitar.
The album is full of changes, both in terms of its musical shifts from sparseness to abundance as well as the genres it draws from. Songs like "Love Liked You" blend folk, country, and Americana, and the album traverses a wide variety of other styles; for example, "We'd Find" plants itself firmly in the dream-pop realm. "She'd won some battles, she lost the fight. It's you," Schottland sings, as the song takes its cloudy, ethereal journey into the abandon of all-encompassing love. But the album never grows pessimistic, never gets too lost in the ether. Instead, despite its wavering, abstract lyrics, it feels charged with an internal life force that makes each song feel present, homegrown in California sunlight, with deep roots in the solid ground.
Image via The Deli NYC
Though it rests on strong foundations, Wild Sight is constantly in motion. Schottland is an expert at transitions, at shaping the peaks and valleys of her songs. "Got Thing" builds to a vibrant climax, then doubles back to a space of restraint at the moment it reaches its height. Sometimes these contrasts can feel chaotic, just as the lyrics can grow knotty. "You got your messy hair and crooked teeth. You don't look like your name, but you're a wild sight to leave. You're my moonshine," she sings on "For Brinsley." At times the album resembles this anonymous lover—songs like "Wolf" unravel into cycles of dissonance and shimmering, cluttered synths.
The album feels like an artist testing her wings, oscillating between restraint and release, gathering droplets from whatever collective river of the mind holds its ageless melodies. Swimming Bell is still coming into her own—sometimes her music seems like it's trying to be something else—but when it relaxes into what it truly is, it becomes a force of abundance, sounding like the sort of thing that could last a very long time.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
POP⚡DUST | Read More...
- Swimming Bell | Free Listening on SoundCloud ›
- Swimming Bell ›
- Swimming Bell | The Deli Magazine ›
- PREMIERE: Swimming Bell "For Brinsley" - Audiofemme ›
- Premiere: Swimming Bell - '1988' | Videos | Clash Magazine ›
- Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019 ... ›
- Swimming Bell's new album Wild Sight - ›
- Wild Sight LP by Swimming Bell – Gashouse Radio ›
- Swimming Bell - Home | Facebook ›
- Swimming Bell announces debut 'Wild Sight' — Coney's Loft ... ›
Happy birthday to the world's biggest genre
On this day in 1973, Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-American "selector" known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a "back to school jam" at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Boogie Down Bronx of New York City.
Armed with a booming sound system and reggae beats, Herc– a shortened nickname for "Hercules"– commanded insatiable audiences across the South Bronx with his unique looping technique called the "Merry-Go Round." "[I knew that] they were waiting for this particular break," Herc later said, "and I got a couple of records that got the same break up in it. I wonder how it would be if I put them all together."
- On This Day: Bob Marley and The Wailers Made the Greatest ... ›
- On This Day: "Killing Me Softly" Broke Up The Fugees - Popdust ›
- On This Day: Aretha Franklin's "Respect" Is More Important Than Ever ›
- On This Day, “Madvillainy” Changed Hip-Hop Forever - Popdust ›
Raymond's popularity sheds light on a bizarre underside of the Animal Crossing fandom.
Raymond is a smug cat who highlights his heterochromatic eyes with hipster glasses.
He is essentially the same exact character as every other Animal Crossing villager with a "Smug" personality type, but again, and this is very important, Raymond is a cat with heterochromatic eyes and hipster glasses. As such, he has completely broken the Animal Crossing community.
- Terraforming Changes How We Experience Animal Crossing ... ›
- People Are Going on Dates in the "Animal Crossing: New Horizons ... ›
- The Worst Animal Crossing Villagers, Ranked - Popdust ›