Review: On Dead Waves – Blackbird EP

7/10

On Dead Waves

Polly Scattergood and James Chapman (MAPS) aka onDeadWaves have announced the Blackbird EP released on 28th October 2016. The EP follows the release of their debut album, featured previously at XS Noize which came out on Mute records earlier in the summer.

For those who enjoyed the album, the EP sits as a perfect companion. In addition to their debut single Blackbird, there is a slower-paced, acoustic version, sung with gorgeous fragility by Polly, with James on backing vocal and just acoustic guitar as their dusty partner in crime. However, in the background, there are always the shimmering waves of synth, which add layers of dreamy atmosphere to the song. Polly and James are well known for their remixes of other artists’ music as well as their own; – they have worked their magic on songs by M83, Susanne Sundfor and Depeche Mode. So it’s fitting that there are separate workings of one of the album’s songs “Winters Child”.

The first remix is from MAPS – the song is backed by a pulse, almost human and regular like a heartbeat and James’ vocal is always in perfect contrast to Polly’s. It’s an ethereal remix, almost stellar and planetary – and its beauty lies in the fact the song‘s continual chant of “on dead waves, on dead waves” remains the core of the song but with James adding layers of rich electronica , the song takes on a heavenly quality of its own. The Polly Scattergood and Glowlines remix is more upbeat and electro- dance but quirky with celtic pipe sounds. It has a real club feel – hardly surprising as this is her forte – she regularly plays and DJS at clubs. This, however, is a clever remix as a brief interlude with just piano is a unexpected twist to the trance beat and showcases Polly’s ability to experiment then the song reverts back to its melancholy roots before the trance returns and we hear that ghostly incantation “On dead waves, On dead waves”.

The EP is a worthy reminder of what both Polly and James can do individually as artists and as onDeadWaves, a collaborative partnership which has been successful and stunning.

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