Home Read Albums Of The Week: Oldest Sea | A Birdsong, A Ghost

Albums Of The Week: Oldest Sea | A Birdsong, A Ghost

Last night I listened to this New Jersey doom duo's thundering, achingly slow album. Then I dreamed I was being slowly run over by a gothic steamroller. Coindicence?

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s an expression of feminine rage, grief, and transformation,” says Oldest Sea vocalist Samantha Marandola of their latest album A Birdsong, A Ghost. “It’s kind of just one long primal scream for me.”

On Sacred Destruction, the opening track of the New Jersey doom duo’s five-track offering, Marandola’s crystalline vocals, layered sumptuously, dance around the sparse twang of a lonesome guitar, building tension that eventually gives way to a majestic dirge. Marandola’s voice is stunning and one-of-a-kind. Whether quavering vulnerably or soaring all-powerfully, it hooks the ear and commands attention like a hawk’s talons sunk in flesh.

“I started as a one-person project back in 2017 and wrote experimental, ethereal, folk music,” she says. “My husband Andrew joined me a short while later and we began to play out as a two-piece. By 2021, my writing evolved into something heavier.”

Across A Birdsong, A Ghost — which clocks in at almost 40 minutes and unfolds like one long scene in a film — the couple set a tone that is haunting, otherworldly, and heartbreaking. The two have stated their influences to include bands such as Mournful Congregation and Shape Of Despair, composers such as John Carpenter and William Basinski, and iconic vocalists such as Björk and Roy Orbison. All are clearly represented here.

The Marandolas also give credit to their rural New Jersey surroundings. Samantha, who works by day in environmental conservation for a land and water trust, states: “It is very rural. A farming community. Being so close to the natural world has a huge impact on how and what I write.”

The Sacred Destruction video, created by Philadelphia sculptor and video maker Dylan Pecora, is a gorgeous, surreal clip, laced with body horror, reminiscent of the works of Matthew Barney. “The song is about letting go of a former self,” says Samantha. “Dylan’s video captures everything that’s meant to be conveyed in that song, and I really appreciate their surrealist approach. They found a way to seamlessly unify song and film so that they’re essentially one unit.”

Pecora’s credits include building props and puppets for Saturday Night Live, and creating music videos for artists such as Merzbow. They are also alleged to be involved in the mysterious Ecology: HomeStones project, which has amassed more than half a million followers across social media.”


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