Dylan Tauber – Sea People

 Dylan Tauber – Sea People

Dylan Tauber – Sea People – Album Review

Like clockwork, Dylan Tauber is back with another record filled with Electro-based tunes.  Definitely strikes me as the kind of dude that has a natural internal schedule that keeps him making music at a consistent rate – we’ve seen him appear here on our pages since 2022 with releases that occur about a half-year apart from each other regularly.  I’ve got love for that kind of routine for sure – I respect the work ethic, and that seems like a good amount of time between albums to gain a bit of perspective in order to do things a bit differently each time without the fear of potentially repeating himself over and over like so many out there tend to do.  Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly similarities within his material, but it’s the kind of cohesiveness that would keep his fan-base coming along with him for the ride to listen to whatever comes next.  In my opinion, his music is generally as consistent as his schedule appears to be…like any artist or band, he’s not immune to the peaks and valleys of creativity over the course of a career, but for the most part I’ve always been pleased by the tunes Tauber’s been making.

So there you go…now you know I’m a fan of this guy upfront, but you also know my only responsibility is to call things like I hear’em as honestly as I can.  I like Dylan – he’s a great guy – but that doesn’t taint my perspective…and I’ll go on to have amazing things to tell ya about Sea People overall, I promise ya!  They just don’t start with “Swimming (Remix)” or its original version at the end, that’s all.  I’m a bit on the perplexed side when it comes to this particular track & the reason as to why it would appear two times on this album, but we’ll get to that more at the end.  Like Tauber, I prefer to focus on the positive stuff when I have the option to, so I will.  I like the production on “Swimming (Remix),” which is no huge surprise given Dylan’s craft and skill level – and of the two versions that are found on Sea People, I personally think it’s the stronger of the two by a fair margin.  I’m not totally in love with the vocals here on this cut I suppose…I think there are some significant highlight moments to be found for sure, but it felt like a bit of an uneven performance overall to me.  Lyricism…I’m probably in the same boat there as well…not my favorite of the bunch.  For the most part, Sea People is largely instrumental, and without the use of a single word in the majority of the rest of these songs, Dylan proves he doesn’t need’em at all.  “Swimming (Remix)” probably would have worked a bit better for me without the vocals too I guess – I like that he’s attempting to add in some Dream Pop vibes to give this cut a bit more of a hybrid sound overall, but as I’ll tell ya later on towards the end, there’s just something about it that doesn’t reach the same level of awesomeness that Tauber will display in every song found in between versions.

Case in-point, I’m not even twenty seconds into the title track on this album, and I instantly feel that shiver down my spine in listening to “Sea People” – that’s the entire difference, right there.  Whatever that special magic is that Tauber brings to his sound and his songs, you get a hit of that immediately as “Sea People” begins, and your ears tell you that you’re listening to something significantly special.  I am loving the fact that this song became the album’s centerpiece, and I’d argue that’s not at all by accident – the vibe you hear in this track is really what seems to guide the rest of the material to follow.  I suppose that’s what I was getting at in the beginning of this review – “Swimming” is the anomaly of this album, it’s not really what you’re in-store for.  What you’ll hear more often than not, are the fascinating shifting moods and beautifully serene melodies like you’ll find in “Sea People” – that’s what the majority of this album sounds like, and it feels like the direction really took its main cues from this title track.  This is an exceptional song in every conceivable way, and some of the most memorable material I’ve personally heard in Tauber’s catalog to-date.  The fact that he’s centered his songs on Sea People around this kind of contemplative, evocative, and all-out beautiful sound…I’m tellin’ ya folks – aside from this record’s beginning and end, you’re in for an extraordinary lineup you can’t get enough of.

“I Am Flying” sounds very much like the Dylan Tauber we know, and a logical progression within his music.  I wouldn’t say that this track quite gives me the sensational chills that “Sea People” did right beforehand, but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that he’s got another high quality cut with “I Am Flying” either.  It’s no secret that every album has its own ebb and flow…I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “I Am Flying” remotely drops the ball, but its chilled-out nature seems to allow the album to coast for a moment before Tauber makes that next leap forward.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that – I think that “I Am Flying” has a tough spot in the lineup to fill coming right after such a profoundly deep cut in “Sea People” – but it maintains the quality we’re looking to listen to, which is all we can really ask for.

You might do a double-take in listening to “The Sea Remembers Its Own” for the first time, running back to your preferred music player to look at the credits and see if it’s actually Chris Martin making a guest appearance on Dylan’s new record.  We never really end up knowing where the vocals come from, or who, when it comes to Tauber’s music…it’s a strategy employed by many artists out there and one that I’ve always questioned – one of the easiest ways to generate more interest in any material is to have more names attached to it.  Anyhow…I shouldn’t complain…those decisions are well above my pay grade and not up to me…I’m just that old school dude that used to love reading the liner notes way back in the day.  I certainly love what I hear on “The Sea Remembers Its Own” – it’s without question my favorite cut of the first four, and you’ve already read about how much I loved “Sea People” earlier on.  I tend to dig on instrumentals, sure – but I’ll be the first to admit that vocals can often be the difference maker in any song when pushing something from good to great when everything seems to fit, which is exactly what you’ll hear in this performance on “The Sea Remembers Its Own.”  When you hear how well this comes out…and how naturally the fluidity and flow you’ll find at the core of this song is, you’ll probably be in the same camp that I’m in, wondering how on earth this wasn’t the cut that appeared twice if Tauber was going to go that route at all.  To me, even though there’s a more low-key energy at work and arguably a bit more of a versatile mood to this song, “The Sea Remembers Its Own” would make for a much stronger candidate as the single & potential gateway in to the album for most listeners.

Tauber’s natural gift for creating music that inherently connects to your soul is on display in the heart of every album he’s ever made, and Sea People stays true to that unwritten rule.  While songs like “Trust The Universe” might not be the cuts you’d look at as ‘the single’ or a natural gateway into the record for most listeners out there, but you’ll likely be surprised at how attached you can become to something like this.  There’s a soothing comfort that comes along with a moment in time like this, and that’s got its own remarkable level of appeal, attraction, and gravitational pull…we instinctively crave songs like this.  I cannot stress just how incredibly right Tauber has got his material in between the first and last songs on this record…if this were a nine track album, I’d be the first to tell ya that it’s an award-worthy effort.  Even with the two versions of “Swimming,” I still think it’s extremely strong material overall and entirely worth your time, don’t get me wrong…all I’m saying is that it’s tracks like “Trust The Universe” that have me pulling up a chair to sit down & give Tauber’s music my full undivided attention, know what I mean?  This cut truly earns every moment of your valuable ear time…it’s authentically spellbinding, straight up.

Many of the tunes he’s put onto Sea People are fairly short this time around, but he’s also seemed to really limit any questionable moments as a result, if not entirely eliminate any altogether.  Let me be as crystal clear as Dylan’s production is – Sea People is an extremely tight record for the vast majority of its lineup.  “The Horizon” is a beautiful tune in this set-list for example, and built on the kind of repetition that would probably kill even a three-minute song…so he’s done the right thing and kept it to just over two minutes in length instead.  Here in this short setting, everything works perfectly as it should, and it ends up becoming something we want more of, rather than what could have been a longer tune that would have drifted into too much of a good thing – make sense?  That’s called editing, objectivity, and professional restraint – all assets that are missing from a lot of modern day music, but used expertly by Dylan throughout this record, and certainly on songs like “The Horizon.”  You can feel that within these shorter timeframes, each element he’s added has purpose, intent, and confidence…which is crucial y’all – it’s actually what draws the attention of our ears even more-so than any groove or rhythm ever could.

Let’s be real here…Tauber knows the right ways to blend fantasy, serenity, and melody together as one.  You genuinely feel the music he makes, and it moves you, time after time, track after track – he should be incredibly proud of his remarkable ear for sound and his innate ability to take you out of your world for however long you listen, to step into his.  Through songs like “My Island,” we get to see things from Dylan’s perspective, you know what I mean?  I’m tellin’ ya, the world is a beautiful place to this guy, and you can hear that through the music he’s making.  There’s a stoic and simple calm to “My Island” that makes it sound like a place you’d want to live in forever, and forget the intense hustle & bustle of what we tend to experience each and every day during life on Earth.  “My Island” isn’t overly complex or needlessly complicated; it’s another stellar example of Tauber’s use of restraint and the right combination of textures and tones within his music that speak volumes to our soul, even when appearing to be much quieter, pensive, or designed to set us adrift into our own internal thoughts.  I’m not the dude that’s looking for the next hit song to bring us to the dance-floor so much as I’m the guy that is always seeking out the next profound cut that can create a deeper connection between us all.  Tracks like “My Island” invoke feelings within us that we all share together, somewhere on the inside.

The only song to reach over four minutes in length on Sea People is “Unity,” topping the set-list at 4:26.  As a result of having extra time, Tauber makes his moves very slow and subtle…you might assume that he’s about to unleash a whole plethora of different ideas to follow what you hear in the intro, but that’s actually not the case at all.  To be honest, I was completely surprised that the longest song on the album was also the cut that changed the least from start to finish – that’s a risky move with his music that I’d never have predicted.  Perhaps even more surprising to me was how spot-on his instincts truly were here.  I’m always going to be the guy that argues and advocates on behalf of giving a song everything it needs, no more & no less, and that’s exactly what “Unity” sounds like to me.  Sure it’s a longer tune, but that length was well warranted for “Unity” to work its magic on you as you listen, and through the use of clever repetition and all the right sounds, this track does indeed have everything it needed to make the right impact on ya.  “Unity” becomes outright hypnotic and fascinating in all the right ways – I love it.  I’d even go as far as to say this ended up being one of my favorites on the album, which was yet another surprise to me.  I think we all expect that we need the music on our playlists to do a whole bunch of things at all times, but there’s really something to be said for the track that does one thing perfectly.

When Dylan gets on a roll creatively, you can feel the inspiration in his art and the confidence within the material.  It gives him even more freedom to examine different aspects of his abilities and what he’s able to create in his music, which is when you’ll find something like “Sad Ocean” pop up.  I’ll admit, even I associate Tauber’s tunes with a more upbeat & positive vibe overall, but “Sad Ocean” is a powerful reminder that he’s just as capable of executing melody in a more moody & melancholy direction too if the moment calls for it.  I’m pretty much in awe of this track…which is what, like the fourth or fifth time I’ve felt that way on this inside of this one experience with Dylan’s music?  He’s got some outright astounding material on this album that is audible proof he’s still shifting gears into the prime of his career within this lineup of songs, and I’d readily put “Sad Ocean” right up there with the best of’em.  He really goes on a strong roll between tracks seven to ten, and continually proves that his mastery of different moods in music is largely what leads him to victory more than anything else.  Sure, words can be a great thing to add as I’ve previously mentioned…but in listening to songs like “My Island,” “Unity,” and “Sad Ocean” back-to-back-to-back, you realize Tauber hasn’t left us wanting for anything more than exactly what we hear.  “Sad Ocean” is as captivatingly beautiful as it is emotionally devastating – love it.

I really like the sound of “Underwater” too.  It employs a similar strategy as “Unity” did earlier on, letting the repetition take the reins and keeping the whole track somewhat static in terms of how it doesn’t move a whole lot, yet “Underwater” also finds its way to a genuinely mesmerizing result.  What I really enjoyed about this track was how it almost seems to get quieter as it plays on…as if you were becoming more and more distant from the sounds you’d hear on the surface, until you’re left with nothing but the quiet you’d find in the deepest depths of the ocean.  It’s a clever track in that regard when you think about it, and it shows that Tauber uses more than mere effects or the right sounds to make an impact with his music; he uses all the tools available from performance to production in order to move you.  That’s where the art of the craft really comes into play, and there’s perhaps no finer example of how he understands that than what you’ll hear in the way that “Underwater” keeps diving deeper and deeper until it eventually disappears entirely.  That’s smart songwriting y’all…I’m endlessly impressed by this.

What was interesting to me was that “Swimming” appeared twice on Sea People.  Don’t get it twisted, I think there IS appeal to this track, and it still has plenty of merit to a degree…but by that same token, it’s the only cut on this entire record that I’d question too.  All-in-all, I felt like Sea People was pretty much perfect from tracks two to ten, but when it’s bookended by “Swimming” on each side…I dunno…for me, this one track didn’t seem to quite measure up to the greatness found in the rest, so to have that be the song that appeared twice felt like the decision came straight out of left field.  You could look at it from another angle too – maybe Tauber is attempting to compensate for the fact that neither version felt like THE version, so he included both, as opposed to recognizing that it was probably just the song itself that didn’t reach that same level of strength & inspiration that the rest of his material had on this album.  Or maybe he just liked the idea so much that he couldn’t separate himself from it regardless of the results, which happens sometimes…we all get attached to what we like & what we create.  I also think that, with its upbeat vocals and whatnot, that “Swimming” has the feel of what would normally be a great choice for a single…which could also explain its dual appearance…but I’d suggest some real caution there – I don’t think it’s the song that should be representing what Sea People is all about at the end of the day and would personally choose just about any other song on the album to be the gateway in.  Regardless, the strengths of Sea People as an album, and in Tauber’s music overall, are revealed in a magnificent wealth of abundance & an impressive variety of ways throughout this lineup of spellbinding songs.  I really believe he’s brought out some of his most undeniable best here.  It’s a practically perfect lineup all things considered, and I feel like he’s tapped into what sets him apart from the rest of what’s out there in the Electro realm, and I’d say the future ahead continues to look mighty bright for the music of Dylan Tauber.

Find out more about Dylan Tauber at his official website at:  https://www.swstudios.net

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