Seasick, Seasick

Seasick, Seasick

As Frank Zappa & The Mothers so cryptically stated it in one of their early songs, “What would you do if the people you knew…were the plastic that melted and the chromium, too?” The only thing I can possibly imagine theoretically rising back up from the ashes of such a poetically offbeat dissolution just might be Brooklyn’s own neo-psychedelic trio called Seasick and their recent EP that explores a musical road far less traveled by most bands.

To put it mildly, Seasick is…well…complicated. Their music is the oddest amalgamation of intertwined sounds I’ve heard in a very long time. As their name might suggest, the combined emanations ushering forth from cuts off their EP kind of put you in mind of being caught in a boat in the middle of the ocean while huge waves loft the craft upwards and downwards in a spellbinding motion that eventually has an effect upon your very equilibrium. In much the same way, this band’s sonic offerings — best described as layer after layer of sound waves coming at you — is definitely going to affect your inner-ear region, as well, whether for good or ill. I find it pleasingly hypnotic; others might find it nauseatingly awful. There’s no accounting for taste, I suppose. Objective analysis aside, however, musical taste has a lot to do with how one reacts to this band. Break out the Dramamine and do your own evaluation.

On the one side, this EP is a fantastic example of just how dark and ominous a band can be, given the right conditions and creative tools. I’m tempted to call it goth-jazz-acid-rock-psychedelic, though certainly not “goth” in the traditional sense (whatever that is, and if you can even say it with a straight face), and certainly not traditional “jazz,” either, other than mimicking its expansively-sweeping note runs without necessarily honoring the sacredness of any given harmony rules. “Psychedelic” fits, for sure, and “acid-rock” is noticeably a building block, as well, but Seasick is just not the kind of a band that can be solitarily labeled. Most of the material comes off sounding like a surrealistic cross between early Jefferson Airplane, free-jazz/art-rock fusion, and vox/orchestral-leaning, Cirque du Soleil-styled New Age music.

And, as the infamous psychic noted in the movie Poltergeist, there’s definitely “more than one haunt in this house,” too. To be specific, there’s exactly three: Jasmine Golestaneh (vocals, guitar), Geoffrey Lee (keyboards), and Sam Levin (drums). As counterparts, they mix together a pretty strange brew of both conflicting and complimentary concoctions within. It’s noteworthy and quite remarkable the way all three of these musicians manage to come up with a triad of overwhelming blends while still retaining a degree of individual presence in the mix that doesn’t upstage any of the other segments. Musically, they absolutely exude more method than madness here, but the only completely unifying force behind their collection is the wafting and sometimes wailing vocals of Golestaneh, which are eerily reminiscent at various points of femme poet/singers like Nico, Grace Slick, Patti Smith, Deborah Harry and PJ Harvey.

On the flip side, Seasick does create true music qualities and not just incoherent noise. It’s just that the music they create effectively walks a very thin tightrope between purist musical forms and abstract art-rock expressions. The band doesn’t seem to be focused on writing mainstream — or even underground — hit songs. Instead, their focus is apparently upon motivating some type of right-brain, impressionistic hit with their listeners. The last artist I recall who was able to do this quite effectively was Jim Morrison, and there are certainly elements of his handiwork residing in Seasick.

Some people ask what “progressive rock” is. Most reviewers are shy to define it, because the term is so misused. In my opinion, “progressive” music, of any genre, is basically music that’s ahead of its time, often almost prophetically so. (Since it’s a somewhat elusive term to use in prospect, most avoid labeling content that way, except in instances where some musical features seem to hint of possible new directions for a particular genre.) Though few artists or bands rightly fit completely into this category, surely some of The Doors’ material was correctly so-called. Jim Morrison, among scant others, had this future-reaching poetic-musical gift. Now, Seasick doesn’t have this gift, but they sure do rehash and play off of Morrison-like artistry very nicely. There’s nothing really new delivered here, however, just a fine recapturing of formerly progressive elements.

I haven’t seen a live Seasick show except through internet videos, but from what I have heard online or from other people, these shows are truly affairs that tap into the late-’60s-psychedelia, oil-gel-filtered arena in marvelous fashion. Regardless, even without all the onstage bells and whistles, Seasick’s music still succeeds in laying hold of the fingerprint of a fair amount of the Airplane-collaborated songs of the later “Sunrise” ilk, and the expressionistic appeal resident in The Doors’ “Strange Days” material that provided fodder for their art-immersed live renditions on tours.

If you like artsy takes on the ’60s psychedelia period set to intriguing female vocals and impressionistic lyrical poetry, then you’ll probably really enjoy Seasick’s music.

(self-released; Seasick --

Review by . Review posted Saturday, January 3rd, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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