Son De Mar by Piano Magic (Review)

Haunting soundscapes that conjure up misty beaches, abandoned lighthouses, and hulking shipwrecks.
Son De Mar, Piano Magic

Composed as a soundtrack to Bigas Luna’s movie of the same name, Son De Mar (trans. “sound of the sea”) isn’t the first time Piano Magic has written music with a nautical theme. Their first attempt was their excellent Bliss Out album. Like that album, Son De Mar looks at the darkness just below the surface, crafting haunting soundscapes that conjure up misty beaches, abandoned lighthouses, and hulking shipwrecks waiting to be discovered.

Opening with the tolling of the bells, “Track 1” (there are no proper track titles) sets the somber mood. Eventually, the sounds of waves and eerie melodies become the dominant sounds, but still maintain the haunting atmosphere. You imagine yourself walking alongside the beach on a grey morning, the dock just barely visible in the fog, and beyond that, the ghostly shapes of ships slowly moving out to deeper waters.

The second track takes on a slightly brighter air, over plucked strings and sparse orchestration. But it still conveys the same feelings of sadness and trepidation. These feelings soon become the album’s dominant themes. There’s an unspeakable melancholy that pervades this album, even when it veers off into more experimental territories a la Lucid or After The Flood. At times, especially during the more string-oriented pieces, I’m reminded of another moving soundtrack, this one for Children of Nature.

Despite there being no lyrics, no track titles, and only the briefest of liner notes, this album teems with images. Not necessarily upbeat, summery images, but evocative ones nevertheless. Like all good scores, it’s perfectly enjoyable apart from its companion movie. Indeed, I’m tempted to say that the scenes that this soundtrack conjures up in my imagination are just as fully realized as those in Luna’s film.

It’s easy to see those seaside villages battered by the waves over the years, to imagine the cold wind and spray on my face, to taste the salty air. And somewhere, just beyond the horizon… I hear it.

I hear the sea. I hear my name.

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