Sparks & Spools
Three Cups of Sea Water
(07.2008, Cavern Sounds)
Verdict = Clatter organized into folk
It is always nice to go into a listening experience with virtually no information or expectations and come out the other side with an absolute gem. Sparks & Spools’ Three Cups of Sea Water provides just such an experience. We received an email about the humble little release not too long ago and have been smitten ever since. Sparks & Spools is the musical alter ego of Salt Lake City resident Taylor Christensen. Christensen’s project emanates the quaint beauty of music created at home, employing everything within arms reach. Alternating between purely instrumental tracks and shy balladry, Sparks & Spools might be most easily categorized as folk, but to leave it at that would be something of an unfortunate over-generalization because Christensen does just about everything but follow conventions. Each song on Three Cups of Sea Water beams with childlike wonder and instrumentation ranging from a standard acoustic guitar to recordings of doors shutting and coins clattering (notable on the aptly titled track “coin”). In fact, Christensen seems to use just about everything he could within the confines of his recording space in order to evoke the melodic or percussive tendencies of every dust mite dwelling within the cobwebs of his songs. It is a bustling clatter to be sure, but at the hands of Christensen it is something of a home brewed orchestra that is an absolute wonder to hear. Trust me, after listening to this thing a dozen times over you will still be searching through these songs curiously identifying the individual instrumental cogs that make the songs work. That’s something that is important as well – these songs work; there is never a feeling of experimentation for experimentation’s sake. Every component feels absolutely necessary as if without it the whole album would collapse into a dusty rubble. There is also a playfulness here that bring to mind like minded instrumental rubble from FG favourites like Miki Odagiri, Shugo Tokumaru or The Books. If you’re a fan of any of the afore mentioned artists, Sparks & Spools’ latest will enter your record collection comfortably and notably. Three Cups of Sea Water is simply a timeless document of why music is so charming in the first place. Oh, and I almost forgot the best part, Christensen is giving this thing away for free online (check the link below) so you don’t even have to move from where your sitting in order to experience what is surely one of the best releases of the year.
Sparks & Spools - Three Cups of Sea Water