What happens when you get a free month of Amazon Prime? You end up watching way too many “free” shows. When one of those shows is Doctor Who, you get sucked in and start drawing comparisons with your everyday world.
I have been watching a lot of Doctor Who, and listening to a lot of Tidelands. The lines are starting to blur.
For those unfamiliar with the BBC television show, the Doctor is the last of the alien race of Time Lords. He travels with a companion (usually a female from Earth, more accurately the UK) through time and space on various adventures and saves the universe in 42 minutes every week. The Doctor battles Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and other enemies of the past and future with the help of friends, a sonic screwdriver and his space vessel, the TARDIS. He has been coming to a television set near you since 1963 (with a hiatus from 1989-2005).
How do they get around the annoying detail that it would be plain near difficult to keep the same actor playing the role of the Doctor for that span of time? A simple writing device that when the Doctor is near death, he regenerates with a new face and (slightly) new personality. A new actor is free to take the character in a new direction every few seasons as the nth iteration of the Time Lord; new face – same sonic screwdriver, TARDIS, and alien encounters.
“New face” are two words I would use to describe Tidelands’ We’ve Got A Map. Written immediately on the heels of their heady debut, If…, their sophomore attempt has a new face, a new personality, but is the same old Doctor. Taking a spontaneous approach to their music, Gabriel Leis and Mie Araki have brought two worlds together: the spiritual robustness of their original sound combined with some catchy-as-hell rock riffs. When the album opens with “Coil,” the listener can immediately experience familiarity: the return of Magik* Magik Orchestra, Araki’s straightforward beat keeping, plus Leis’ flugelhorn and silky poetry. But there is something else there as well as in the subsequent tracks. Like a Doctor reborn and stranded who discovers he enjoys fish sticks with custard, Tidelands finds a lighter side of themselves. Every beat is catchy. Leis shows off some funky guitar chops in “The New Black” and “Japan.” “Sexy Fox” covers so much personal ground and is a fantastic trip down the psychedelic rock rabbit hole, while “Twin Lakes” is a piano, vocal and string arrangement of pure beauty.
Tidelands debut was a thinking person’s soundtrack; We’ve Got A Map still has intellectual density, but doesn’t make you fell like you just read Proust. There are many tracks that push the 5-minute-plus mark, but like “Toaster,” are expertly written to change their face midway through to maintain a fresh feel throughout. True art is about using abstraction to express emotion, and true artists know how to make their medium speak to everyone. Tidelands has mastered the technique of making their depth accessible and sinking the hooks of their songs into your subconscious. Listen to We’ve Got A Map to challenge your expectations of what music can mean to you, and enjoy every second of it along the way.
Oh, and I can’t speak for the band, nor do I know what their thoughts are on Doctor Who, but you should totally watch that show as well.