Henry Bateman | Seaside (single premiere)
SoundThread Music Blog is pleased to share the first taste of new music from Leeds-based singer-songwriter Henry Bateman, who is scheduled to release his forthcoming third album in Spring 2019. "Seaside" is an extremely intriguing yet unsettling track, with narrative that sets the scene at a beach where a female driver and small child sit in a car. We hear the peaceful sounds of the sea - the waves cresting and gently hitting the beach. The musical atmosphere is constructed with exquisite, gently building strings - reminiscent of the elegant, mysterious sounds of 4AD studio projects This Mortal Coil and The Hope Blister. The listener hovers somewhere between serenity and uncertainty - imagine a film where some significant event or realization is about to happen. You have no indication what's about to transpire, but you can sense it.
As the song progresses, we eventually realize that the tale of "Seaside" is told from the perspective of the female driver, speaking to the small child. Beyond the painted imagery of kids playing catch in the sand dunes, we come to grips with the fact that the driver is a kidnapper, desperately rationalizing and telling the child, "Stay here with me, I'm everything you need", and shockingly, "You can call me ... mom." Are we supposed to sympathize with the female character? the child? The pause in the vocal delivery, followed by the distant, echoing piano is an effective musical accompaniment to this bombshell revelation - demonstrating how "less is more" is the most effective musical medium for this song.
Henry describes the recording process for "Seaside": "I knew fairly on that I wanted to use strings for this one. My mate, the folk musician Seth Bye, plays most stringed instruments, so we locked ourselves away in a room for a day and I recorded him playing the arrangement I’d written, and then anything and everything on violin and viola; hitting it, drones, every articulation you can think of. I did the same thing with a cellist and double bass player. This track really came together through a process of me cutting up those recordings and piecing them together into what you hear on the track. It was a very different arrangement process for me; very much based around taking the musical personalities of several people and editing them into a track. I think it’s ended up being something very unique and something I’m very proud of."
We asked Henry if "Seaside" was representative of the new album's theme or sound, and if there were any comparisons/contrasts to his previous album, Throwing & Catching. He conveys: "I'd say that conceptually, 'Seaside' is quite representative of the album. This album's mostly about characters. I found it interesting to try and express myself in a more abstract way, through characters; all of whom are quite ordinary people who find themselves in extreme situations in the songs. Most of the tracks are quite vast. Most of the album is very much a 'band' album like 'Throwing & Catching'. But, whereas the last album was for the most part just the band - with this one I decided to build the arrangements as far as I could. The songs feel quite 'extreme' and it sort of felt right to do that. I found it interesting to see how much you can fill an arrangement up before it becomes too much. It also means that when you come down to a smaller acoustic guitar track or something, that change in dynamic has so much more impact."