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)
- 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
"Return of the Simple Child"
"Ask If You Can Ask"
"Killing an Angel"
"Only for Men"
"the Bitch Inside"
"I Prayed for Rain to Fall"
"In the Heat of the Moment"
"Before My Circle"
"Blocked and Reported"
"Bought for Free"
"Built to Last"
"Heart Made of Rust"
VIDEO: "Only for Men", by Ralph Moffettone
VIDEO: "Gangstalker", by Sarah Swillum
VIDEO: "Return of the Simple Child", by Sergio and Alexis Graman
Edition of 500 LPs with digital download code.
Pre-order available now. Ships in early 2021.