Blanche Blanche Blanche – Seashells LP
It’s a bit of a cliché in experimental music circles to compliment music for being confusing (as when people refer to a record as a “head-scratcher”), but this almost always designates a very specific kind of aesthetic confusion: an opaqueness of process combined with a dearth of legible expressivity. I eagerly listen to a lot of music with those qualities, but I’m rarely actually confused by it. I find Seashells, on the other hand, to be genuinely pretty confusing. The form and instrumentation are clear enough – poppy songs with keyboards and vocals. But the electric piano is often dashing through so many thick chords that they barely sound melodic, and it’s difficult to tell whether the singer is blurting out insular jokes or divulging slices of hard-won poetic wisdom.
And that’s what’s head-scratching about Seashells: the tone is really hard to read. It’s both embarrassingly earnest and defensively coy. The social commentary is both spot-on and murky, perhaps a bit dodgy at moments. The production sounds both fussily overcooked and rushed, unfinished. That’s all to say: it’s terrific. I love this record. I find its contradictions rejuvenating. And, at a basic level, I’m simply delighted by what I hear as its perverse and slightly juvenile joyfulness, which is the least confusing part of it; joy is always perverse and slightly (or more than slightly) juvenile.
– Steven Zultanski
Their first album in over six years, “Seashells” is the 10th full-length record by Blanche Blanche Blanche (Zach Phillips and Sarah Smith). As “Blue” Gene Tyranny once wrote to BBB, “I really, really have been enjoying your albums. To me they are a pure modern bop style, but don’t let me characterize your writing in any way. They are just quite wonderful. The ever-evolving disjunctive bop stimulates in my mind thoughts of hearing Lambert Hendrix and Ross with a tiny bit of disjunctive Zappa. It is truly thrilling music and I am very privileged to hear it.“
written & recorded to Tascam 424 in short sessions by Sarah Smith & Zach Phillips 2017-2019 in Brooklyn NY
cover painting and all melodies by Sarah
Ryan Power: guitar on “Before My Circle” + mastering