SHORELINE is the first album on new record label Cue Dot, founded by Derbyshire based musician and radio DJ, Lippy Kid. The album’s creator Lyndon Scarfe, made the record in May and June of this year, with lockdown still in force and his thoughts turning to the coastline that he was trapped so far away from. So I decided to listen to the album with the same mind-set as it was created, miles from the sea but placing myself there mentally. It proved remarkably easy to do as SHORELINE is an album which gets inside your head and frees your imagination. Fire up your imaginative receptors and allow this ambient world to take you away and wash over you like a rising tide at sundown.
In the album notes Scarfe himself talks about the Eno influence on the record. He is talking about the technique more than the sound – using a looped recording device where the recorded signal feeds back into itself, distorting the original into new sounds as it goes, which Scarfe added to as the album progressed. The result is fascinating in that it gives the listener the sense of being on a consistent sonic voyage whilst each track is still utterly unique. As the title track takes hold the Eno influence feels very obvious but within minutes that dissipates and you ease into a world of gentle drones, slow build euphoria and a weird and wonderful electronic soundscape which is distinctive and original.
On the southernmost tip of the Yorkshire coast there is a path which runs along the Humber estuary from a place called Sammy’s Point all the way to the lighthouse at Spurn Head if you choose to follow it that far. On a quiet day you are utterly removed from everything, confronted by miles of glistening mud and the unspoken dangers and power of the tide and the water. A few miles distant across the Humber stand the warehouses and docks of Grimsby and the hazy seafront of Cleethorpes. The human world is somehow distant and abstract. It’s a space which lingers in the memory but now you’re in the ancient realm of mud and the sea, squawking gulls and winter geese. Welcome to Shoreline.
By the time the second track Starling begins you’ve already been transported to a different world. Here it comes alive. Scarfe creates a swooping, swooshing quality on this track, majestic like the spectacle of an actual starling murmuration.
The cinematic scope and quality of the album triggers all kinds of feelings and reactions. The result is the sense that you’ve been on a journey but not in a straight line. The terrain is constantly shifting; the weather is not a constant. There are characters. You hear seabirds cry (in your head, not on the record) and you feel the thoughts and memories of ghosts; their presence somehow tangible.
The journey doesn’t just take place on the shoreline either. On Going Back I was out at sea, returning to the shore in a squall, the lights of the harbour and coastal village fizzing and jumping as my small vessel navigates the waves. The old sea dog captain is unsure whether he’s returning home or leaving his home on the water when he makes it back to dry land.
Shallow opens with a neon buzz and you’re in a different setting again but still very clearly on that same journey. It conjures images of an abandoned fairground on the promenade of a working class seaside town like Bridlington or Blackpool. As the waves crash against the seawall you’re unsure whether it is just the off-season or whether this is now a ghost town; a post-apocalyptic waste ground by the sea. Shallow has an unsettling quality though why that is I can’t say. Whilst it creates a psychic canvas of decay and abandon it does have an uplifting vibe, particularly the second half of the track as it evolves. There’s a sense of an ending and a new beginning – the clearness and fresh taste of sea air after a storm, yet with the undercurrent of rust and damage that can come with such natural phenomena.
All journeys have an end point and Dust to me symbolises that. It’s a distorted drone piece signalling the dream is almost over. It isn’t an unpleasant sensation but it is different to the rest of the album. The end is nigh. It bubbles and buzzes before climaxing in a subtly powerful electronic death march. Are you marching home? Are you walking out to sea? Are you flying? Are you are a ghost? Good luck finding the answers.
Cue Dot Records is home to a single project, “The Cue Dot Series”. The series will consist of a number of releases from different collaborating artists that make up the whole. If the other releases are of the same standard as Scarfe’s SHORELINE, The Cue Dot Series will rise to be viewed as a cultural landmark. Lyndon Scarfe’s SHORELINE should certainly be held in such high regard. SHORELINE is an immersive electronic dreamscape. Allow it to do its work on you and you’ll be transported along the inner byways and highways of your psyche. There’s a world in there waiting to be discovered and this record will help you do so. A transcendental masterpiece.