The Sea and Cake are a band who need very little introduction. In their extensive 20 year career the band has bridged the gap between Brazilian music of the late 1960’s, African influenced guitar lines, and independent pop. A sound that is entirely distinct, centered around the delicate guitar interplay of Sam Prekop and Archer Prewitt, driven by the versatile rhythms of bassist Eric Claridge and drummer John McEntire, and finally set apart by Prekop’s vocals and obtuse lyrics. The trademark soft spoken intimacy has been replaced by assured confidence and buoyancy. The band have a renewed sense of freedom and seem to be invigorated by their own explorations. The energy and excitement are palpable.
The Moonlight Butterfly is their ninth album and arrives in the middle of a wellspring of creativity for the band. The album was recorded at Soma studios, in Chicago, by drummer John McEntire. The Moonlight Butterfly has the core elements of the utterly unique Sea and Cake sound, while introducing a more experimental approach to the song’s textures and structures. The songs are more extended in form and cinematic in feel. The band’s singular guitar-based pop sound is filtered though pattern based ideas that slowly morph the linear into the modal. The album is filled with extended instrumental passages that bear the markers of Prekop’s recent solo exploration of analog synthesizers. The song “Inn Keeping”, for example, focuses on the synthesizer as the main armature of the song, a constant to play with and against. The band found that a shifting of the focus from the vocal to new instruments facilitated a more open approach. The artwork, a delicate elephant drawing by bassist Eric Claridge, captures the music’s essence: at once light and heavy, sweet and sinister, distant and close. The Sea and Cake’s bold explorations are delivered in layers of delicate tones and melodies.
The band’s recent tour was a month long sojourn with Broken Social Scene that culminated in the release of a split 7”. There are no plans to slow the pace following an April tour of Europe and plans to remain active in performances throughout 2011 abound. They have already started working on an additional album for release late 2011 or early 2012. The Sea and Cake are driven by their shared exploration and the notion that in order for these explorations to wield power on others, they must be made in some way to feel it.