Tomorrow We Sail is a six piece Leeds based band who are part of the Gizeh Records stable and whose members appear / have appeared in other Gizeh groups such as A-Sun Amissa, Glissando and Farewell Poetry. The band is stylistically described as Post Rock / Folk / Alternative which perfectly suits their music.
This their second album follows on from 2014’s “For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight”, which the label states: “this new work combines perfectly the soaring atmospheres, gorgeously intertwined vocal harmonies and dramatic shifts in tone and dynamics that have come to characterise Tomorrow We Sail’s sound. Yet, there is a new sense of urgency here. Very much an album of its time. “The Shadows” draws upon the same sense of connection to both the past and present that defined its precursor, but features storytelling that is even more defiant and deeply personal.”
“Side by Side” opens with fluid guitar lines of a slightly distant quality before the sound is filled with drums, violin, bass and piano creating a quality of Post Rock that is reminiscent of the almost nautical quality of a group like Rachels. The intensity picks up when the band veer into a loud section of crashing instruments before the breakdown that lets the music reach out and expand. The mood changes due to the effect of the long thin guitar arcs, violin and almost martial drumming. The band are adept at creating mood and the mix allows for multiple layers of sounds cascading around, but not colliding. Vocally with the use of group dynamics (all members with the exception of drummer/percussionist Alistair Hill are credited with vocals), they bring an emphasis to the lyrics but also a quality of folk music singing , which is why the label describe them musically as Post Rock / Alternative / Folk.
“Home Fires” delicately melodic tones from glockenspiel are paired with minimal bass and guitar with the male/female joint vocals of Tim Hay and Ella Blake which have a combination of rich tones and fragility. The music moves into a section where the violin leads the track in the folk direction that would not be as obvious if just the electric instruments remained. The violin, along with the pace of the track which is slow, steady and melancholic allows for build ups and additional instrumentation such as the harmonium to join the sound palate. There is a sense of an alt country feel in the guitar tones in spots, while also being quite spindly in other moments. The vocals are what underpins this track especially the double tracking and their interaction with the instruments determines the style of music. Hay’s vocals on particular have a very tortured romantic feel about them.
“The Shadows” the musical narrative changes with a full descent into Post Rock that has strong Ambient touches. The guitars ring and soar, the drums maintain a stuttered beat, Blake’s vocals change their tone into an angelic form. The music has removed any elements of folk previously heard and is about filling the sound with mood, texture, subtlety and emotion. The guitars are there not to create a rhythm but to create a feel of something ascending that is augmented by the keyboards and underpinned by the glockenspiel which adds a level of innocence to the track.
“Winifred” stark piano is paired with the combined vocals of Hay’s David Sylvian-esque vocals and Blake’s fragile style lending the track a morose feel. With a subtle breathy backing vocal added there are only four elements used in the construction of the track and these elements are rather effective in filling the sound and creating a mood that feels almost like a eulogy for someone lost.
“The Ghost Of John Maynard Keynes” slowly building rumbling, howling drones and feedback create tension and usher in vocals dripping with despair before a tremolo infused based heavy alt rock groove kicks in. The use of tremolo, drones and synchs lends the track an alt country meets post rock feel. The guitar cuts through the sound like a knife and rather than being a rhythmic feature is more about texture and color. The bass and drums are what holds the rhythm and under pins the track. The track veers onto a sea shanty sort of feel with the defiant group vocals. The vocals ate able to fuse together well as the vocals all occupy different spheres with the different timbres of the vocals. At just under seven minutes the track manages to cover a fair amount of ground and have several movements.
“To Sleep” atmospheric windswept ambient drones swirl skyward alongside piano and Blake’s torch song style fragile vocals. Angela Chan’s string sections add an orchestral feel to the track which opens it up while complimenting the vocals and the piano sections. As the vocal soars they help in bringing forth the emotion in Blake’s voice.
“The Golden Elevator” the epic track on the album begins with dark guitar drones which demonstrate the track’s melody, Hammond organ, strings and Hay’s earnest singing. The drones are deep in the back ground, but not so far as to as be ignored. In the lead up to the full band coming in the strings start making their effect, mining a territory coveted by modern classical and post rock. When the band kicks in the music holds these qualities, but also has a dimly lit smoky feel to the music, but when the music reaches its crescendo the band sound like an electric folk band on fire. The vocals throughout the track range from quietly broken, to crooning, to falsetto to extremely hope filled and expansive. The music mirrors these territories perfectly and provides a complete listening experience.
Having been in other bands and creating music for several years now, you can see “The Shadows” as a distillation of their learned craft. The tracks are well constructed with nothing superfluous, with each element selected to compliment an other. The variation throughout the album and indeed within certain tracks, gives the listener depth and variety to enjoy. If you are looking for a thoroughly thought out and considered album you would do well checking out “The Shadows”.