Vinyl 2×LP, Limited Coloured$44.49
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- Gatefold sleeve
- Limited to 300
Richie Culver had been waiting his whole life to record I was born by the sea. His debut album immediately and messily inscribed the artist into the canon of outsider music and experimental electronics, serving both as an arresting statement of intent and a painful reckoning with the difficult path that lead up to it, stealing one last glance back at a place he always knew he had to escape. Between grim lamentations, faded memories and anxiety attacks, all told with searing honesty and disarming openness, I was born by the sea excavates a space for hope, finding Culver digging through Humberside silt to find a world weary optimism, the raw material from which his visual and sound art is shaped. For this collection of expansions and inversions, Culver invites a collection of kindred spirits, contemporary inspirations and old heroes to wade into the salt water of his formative years spent living for impromptu raves and afterparties, connecting vivid memories of his birth place of Withernsea to artists hailing from as nearby as Preston and Bridlington, further afield, from Manchester and London, Berlin and Paris, before returning back to Hull, to where it all began.
For some, responding to I was born by the sea means diving even deeper into the record’s furthest reaches. Space Afrika clear away the pummelling loops of noise from ‘It’s hard to get to know you,’ revealing a cool and cavernous expanse in its wake. Distant chatter, previously heard as though through thin, plasterboard walls, now echoes from outside the maddening claustrophobia of the original’s Sisyphean sonics, illuminated as a dense storm cloud suspended amidst a more open scene, washed clean by a lighter rain, allowing the tender heart of the track to beat clear. London producer MOBBS stretches out ‘Pigeon Flesh’ into an epic, 10-minute, cold-sweat spiral, strung-out tension wrung from disconnected phone tones twisted in unexpected directions, snatches of Culver’s voice turned inside-out and deep fried bass threatening to tip the track over into oblivion, the build-and-release of a nervous breakdown experienced in real time. In an act of subversive self-reflection, Morgane Polanski switches one kind of ennui for another in her adaption of ‘I was born by the sea,’ swapping the sea for the city, English seaside towns in January for summer evenings in Paris and flashing lighthouses and sparkling oil rigs for the Eiffel Tower and the traffic around L’Arc de Triomphe. Even Culver finds time to revisit ‘Dream About Yourself,’ a track taken from his EP Post Traumatic Fantasy, breathing new words into its glacial drift, the half-remembered testimony of a shut-in: Woke up in the evening / Pray for me / Don’t trust anyone / Pray for algorithm. Reframed in a more melancholy light, the track’s reverberant keys even more clearly evoke a mournful nostalgia, fresh pain felt in old wounds.
Others find a parallel universe in Culver’s visceral world building. Rainy Miller flips the script with a scorched, avant-drill rework of ‘Daytime TV’, threading puncturing hi-hats and queasy low-end surge through the track’s steady ambient cascade, invoking the irresistible Preston beat magic of Miller’s own essential debut album, Desquamation. Aho Ssan melts away the crystalline textures of ‘Love Like an Abscess’ with the ominous crackle of a nascent fire, building through swathes of organic Max/MSP squelch and brittle, nails-down-chalkboard scrape, swelling and metastasising the original to spill over Culver’s desperate hymn to corporeal desire, at once flesh and not. Teresa Winter transports us an hour up the coast from Withernsea to her native Bridlington, replacing the sea wall of synthesis on ‘Nervous Energy’ with muffled ASMR murk and fever dream whispers, transforming Culver’s unflinching observations into a haunting call-and-response, filling in the blanks with her own eerie utterances, a fleeting conversation with a ghost. In a touching victory lap, Fila Brazillia, eccentric stalwarts of beloved ‘90s trip hop imprint Pork Recordings, whose performances at Hull institution The Lamp convinced a young Culver of the necessity to make his mark on club culture, resurface for their first remix in 20 years. Steve Cobby and David McSherry lead a low-slung, heartfelt stroll back through a suite of tracks from I was born by the sea, tracing a full circle saunter from Culver’s origins to his current musical practice, the sounds of his present repurposed by the sound of his youth. In a gesture that reflects the emotional complexity of the project, Fila Brazillia find joy at the end of Culver’s troubled reflection, picking out an undeniable groove in the stasis of feeling trapped in your hometown. Underlining Hull’s vital musical legacy, from Baby Mammoth to Throbbing Gristle, Cobby and McSherry demonstrate that, though there are certainly storms, by the sea there is also sun and through the fog, if you listen, you can hear a singular sound, a sound now carried by Richie Culver.
Text by Henry Bruce Jones
- 1 Daytime TV (Rainy Miller Remix) 2:21 Buy
- 2 It's Hard to Get to Know You (Space Afrika AmbiV) 3:41 Buy
- 3 Pigeon Flesh (MOBBS' Butcher Mix) 6:38 Buy
- 4 Love Like an Abscess (Aho Ssan Remix) 5:06 Buy
- 5 Nervous Energy (Teresa Winter Remix) 6:39 Buy
- 6 I Was Born by the Sea (Morgane Polanski Remix) 5:39 Buy
- 7 I Was Born by the Sea (Fila Brazillia Remix) 4:50 Buy
- 8 Dream About Yourself (Bonus) 3:28 Buy