Chistian Kiefer and Jefferson Pitcher- To all Dead Sailors
(Camera Obscura Records CAM081CD)

From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)

'To All Dead Sailors' is the second collaboration of Christian Kiefer and Jefferson Pitcher following 'The Inexplicable Falling' on the Mudita label. SHIP UNDER SAND starts with waves, drones and water gurgling, almost new agey guitar plucking. Then some whistling, like birds?! THE CAPTAIN then the song proper with guitar, vocals, piano. The press release says this cd is "a collection of songs, instrumentals, and sonic experiments, this is an album that explores the mystery of the sea: its violence, its beauty, its grace." CARPENTERS AND SAILORS banjo? with high quality vocals, lyrics, melody and keyboards. This song is about the Captain also. MARCONI BRINGS THE CYPHER cool effect on the vocals for this one, whimsical, lilting. I can't tell if it's Christian or Jefferson singing lead but these guys effortlessly knock off the very high quality bizzarro pop tunes. Oh, and cypher is one of my current fave words. THE ENGINEER'S DREAM weird machine drone hum, people moving around, then faint tinkling melody on xylophone/toy piano?! No vocals on this one but still very nice. ERENDIRA AND THE OCEAN more strummy lovely vocal and melody. These guys apparently have been doing this sorta thing for quite awhile because this is very professional but never bland or boring. It's cool all these songs have a sea/captain theme but at the same time I'm left wondering why I'm supposed to find this concept interesting but I'm probably being too picky! THE SEA WILL GIVE YOU AWAY these guys are exceptionally talented vocalists with tasteful/original melodies and arrangements etc. BURIAL AT SEA back to the banjo and lush vocal, haunting lyrics, "remember Benjamin fast asleep and how you cared for him so carefully." Then the killer hook, almost a Radiohead moment. Very simple and lush at the same time. THE MERMAID AND THE DRUNKS great title, each song has a slightly different vocal effect and they all sound very cool. Yes, it's all very impressive, more quality product from Tony Dale and Camera Obscura. Then goes into strange pulsing drones and distant sounds and vocals, very lysergic. AM THE ICEBREAKER this one starts out like the avant train down the experimental tracks then some whistling, banjo and chord organ. ASTROLABE this one has a very country feel/sound. "It's that time again, the crickets in the hold start to sing, if you're quiet you can hear them sing." Another epic that wants to be a radio hit. AMONG THE THINGS THE SEA THROWS UP more lovliness guitar melody and cool drones, very lush and beautiful, the whole cd is consistently so. TO ALL DEAD SAILORS it's amazing how these guys sing together so effortlessly, very smooth! Moderne psychedelia at it's finest! WHISTLER COVE last song starts with water sounds, then two acoustic guitars and piano, beautiful soaring lushness...the production value of this CD really grows on you with repeated listens...

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Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

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