EP Review of Cosmo Sheldrake: Pelicans We
Cosmo Sheldrake takes his inspiration from the world around him, pulling rhythm from a sheet of slate sliding down a hill or waves lapping at the side of a boat. Building on whichever pattern has inspired him, he combines sampled sounds with a wide assortment of instruments including (and certainly not limited to) banjo, piano, penny whistle, and accordion to craft a richly textured world of sound easy to get lost in. Once the world has been established, he sings the nonsensical stories of that place sparking the listener’s imagination.
The record crashes into life with the “Tardigrade Song,” dreaming of living the life of one of the most durable organisms on the planet. There are hints of old sea shanties with a mellow dance groove wrapped around it. The song ends being content with life and all the comforts of home.
Then a cat’s purr introduces a stumbling, whimsical song titled “The Fly.” This is a musical recital of William Blake’s classic poem with the same title. Rather than focusing on the annoying drone of a fly, this song feels like it follows a fly’s irregular path through the air, halting and pausing at moments but finally resolving, “Then am I/A happy fly/If I live/Or if I die.”
Flipping the record brings a chorus of oboe, flute, and little percussive flourishes recounting Edward Lear’s silly limerick “Pelicans We.” Somehow the music is simultaneously halting yet maintains a smooth flow. As with the previous song, lyrics from the nineteenth century are perfectly matched with music that could only be created with modern technology.
Wrapping up the album is the most pop friendly tune of the four, “Rich,” written and sung by Anndreyah Vargas (spelled three different ways between the record, video and MP3 files). It keeps the common theme of the EP, dreaming of what life could be. Anndreyah’s childlike voice is ideal for fantasies of having a perfect body while the multi-layered humming and looping chimes and guitars maintain the world initially introduced in the first track.
Cosmo’s first release was a two-song 45 with “The Moss” on one side and another Blake tune, “Solar,” on the flip side. These four songs have doubled the amount of enjoyment I get playing records by having twice as much music. There are rumours that a full-length album is coming later this year to continue this exponential growth of my Cosmo Sheldrake library.
The “tour” page of Cosmo’s website lists upcoming gigs this summer, many of them festival dates, in the UK, Germany, France, and Bulgaria.