If you really want to become knowledgeable about music, the only way seems to be to read liner notes. I glanced at the ones which came with Swimmer One’s latest album and who should I see but Pete Harvey. Who I’ve seen onstage with The Leg, Meursault, Animal Magic Tricks, Willard Grant Conspiracy and Christ knows who else. In Edinburgh terms, he is the Bart Owl of the cello. The loss of liner notes is one of the most unlamented changes to music in the digital age, but I think it should be mentioned.
Swimmer One remind me quite strongly of another Edinburgh indie band: Ballboy. They also remind me, somewhat oddly, of late nineties indie nearlywases Strangelove; there’s something in the slow piano and the way the vocals border on a croon which calls them to mind from time to time, although the comparison is far from complete.
Ballboy come to mind with the lyrics. Gordon McIntyre may be a little more wry and humorous, but there is something in the day to day conversationalism of a lot of it which suggests a certain commonality underneath it all.
They’ve been around a little longer than most of the current crop of Edinburgh bands, but Swimmer One embrace a lot of the same things, albeit in a very different way. To hear that a band was combining the orchestral and electronic would surprise no-one these days, but on Dead Orchestras it is never done in the deliberately obtuse manner bands have a habit of adopting nowadays.
Here the orchestration and the electronics serve the same function: they expand like an embrace, softening any of the harsher messages of the album. In fact, they work almost exactly like the last lyric of the whole record: “everything will be okay, just not in the way that you expect it.”
Swimmer One – Ghosts in the Hotel