Label: Be With Records.
Ten years ago in 2010, Jon Tye and Pete Fowler embarked upon a new chapter in their career when they released Ocean Trippin’, which was their debut album as Seahawks. Since then, the intrepid musical explorers have released at least one, sometimes two or even three albums a year. These albums find the prolific and versatile duo exploring a variety different styles. This resulted in Seahawks receiving an invite to work on a prestigious project.
Given their versatility and their ability to make paint pictures with music it was no surprise when Seahawks were asked by the legendary library music label KPM to contribute to their catalogue. The result was the cinematic sounding Island Visions, which was added to their digital catalogue on the ‘20th’ of November 2019. That was just part of the story.
Six months later, and Be With Records released Seahawks’ album Island Visions on vinyl. It finds Jon Tye and Pete Fowler exploring sound for vision where Seahawks have constructed “audio micro-worlds to explore and inhabit.” The thirteen tracks on Island Visions are akin to a journey from the poolside in the evening to the sunrising as a new day dawns.
Most of Island Visions was recorded at The Centre Of Sound in Cornwall, with the rest of the sessions taking place in Studio 34 in London. Joining Jon Tye and Pete Fowler was the master of boogie Sven Atterton on fretless bass and keyboards, percussionist Nick Mackrory plus two familiar faces, Dan Hillman and Alik Peters-Deacon, who are part of Seahawks live sound. This was the band that recorded Island Grooves which is a captivating album of genre-melting music.
Island Grooves is an album that has been influenced by the music of the past and present. This includes library music and especially two names form KPM’s illustrious past. This includes guitarist, saxophonist, composer and orchestra leader Mike Vickers who is responsible for the classic library music album A Moog For All Reasons as well as A Moog For More Reasons and Brass Plus Moog. The influence of Brian Bennett who cowrote and recorded the library music classic Synthesis with Alan Hawkshaw.
Then there’s the influence of Delia Derbyshire and David Vorhaus from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the lush sounding soundtracks of the late composer Les Baxter. They’re joined by ambient, Balearic, funk, jazz and new age music on the cinematic sounding Island Visions.
Just like so many of KPM suites released over the years, Island Visions is an album with two very different sides. Both tell a story.
As the sun rises on an exotic island as the tired and weary listener heads poolside to revitalise their jaded self. Over the speakers at the poolside they’re greeted by the spacious and atmospheric sounding Hot Sand Shuffle with features some of Seahawks’ trademark “deck shoegaze.” It gives way to the slow, smooth and cinematic Sky Blue Sky which encourages the listener to lie back, relax and unwind. This they do, before feeling revitalised they head to the Mystic Beach where waves break on the beach as its inhabitants soak up the sun’s rays.
Next stop is the Crystal Forest which a river runs through as birds sing, bells ring. There’s ambient, new age and Eastern influences before a squelchy synth and drums drive the arrangement along and add a degree of urgency as the intrepid explorers cross the island and head to the Distant Shore. They relax as an ethereal and elegiac soundtrack plays. Then Seahawks throw a curveball and pounding 4/4 drums are added signalling it’s time to embark upon a River Run.
Initially River Run is slow as it meanders along revealing its atmospheric and cinematic sound. Birdsong greets the listener as a hang drum, electric gamelan, flute and loon play creating music that soothes and relaxes during this captivating musical journey.
It continues during Side B and finds the revellers enjoying a variety of cocktails by the pool, before some dance the night away at a beachside bar. Other sit in the local chill out bar content to watch the sunset and bask in the beauty of their island idyll.
Catch A Wave bursts into life as bubbling synths, crisp drums and a synthetic guitar combine to create an uptempo track that could well be the soundtrack to an afternoon playing and lazing by the beach in some exotic location. There’s a retro sound as crispy beats and a phat buzzing bass synth open Paradise Bird Bath. It almost swaggers and struts into being before birdsong and a marimba add a contrast. A myriad of sounds flit and shimmer in and out of the atmospheric and cinematic arrangement which is proof that travel to this island broadens the mind.
Dark, dramatic, dubby, lysergic and cinematic describes Smooth Running perfect poolside listening and one of the highlights of Island Visions. So is Spirits Have Flown where a glistening, shimmering synth and dreamy saxophone are joined by a marimba and chilled beats. They provide the perfect backdrop for the revellers who sit on the beach waiting for the sun to set on another day on their island paradise. As they do, waves from the Rolling Deep blue ocean break on the beach. Behind them, music plays and they listen as shimmering, glistening rhythms combine with the sensual sounding saxophone and the unmistakable sound of a seductive rhythms, fretless bass. It’s a sound they’ll remember once they return home.
With their adventure nearly over, the revellers left on the beach have the Island Blues and this melancholy soundscape articulates how they feel. Tonight they will give one final Sun Salute, and as the DJ at the chill out bar plays this beautiful, atmospheric soundscape they leave the beach for the final time knowing the drudgery of the nine-to-five grind awaits them on Monday.
When Seahawks were asked by the legendary library music label KPM to contribute to their catalogue this must have been a huge honour for Jon Tye and Pete Fowler. They would know that they were following in the footsteps of luminaries like Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker, Brian Bennett, John Cameron, Johnny Pearson, Keith Mansfield and Mike Vickers who had recorded landmark albums of library music for KPM. Spurred on by this knowledge, Seahawks rose to the challenge and recorded a modern album of library music Island Visions.
During Island Visions, Seahawks paint pictures with their unique brand of cinematic music. They take the listener on a journey to an exotic island idyll where the sea is blue and alluring and the beaches golden with beachside bars serving cocktails to the weary and jaded travellers. These are the pictures that Seahawks paint on Island Visions which sounds like the soundtrack to a film that has yet to be made, and deserves to be made so that a wider audience can hear Seahawks finest album and a welcome addition the KPM Music library.