Album Review: Dive Index – The Surface We Divide
The latest release from collaborative project Dive Index, “The Surface We Divide”, comes with some familiar voices and some new, but the overall sound of the album extends naturally from 2008′s critically acclaimed debut, “Mid/Air”. Technically falling within the category of ambient electronic/downtempo, Dive Index pushes the genre’s boundaries with a level of sonic ornamentation, layered vocal production, and attention to detail which is becoming increasingly rare in the age of the bedroom producer.
As the wizard behind Dive Index’s curtain of collaboration, New York City based producer/multi-instrumentalist Will Thomas works with vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic via file-sharing and email to pull together an album which is impressively cohesive given the number of collaborators one finds in the liner notes. Thomas’ production work is both beautiful and immaculate, seamlessly integrating syncopated electronic glitches, samples, and synthesizer with live acoustic instrumentation courtesy of drummer Kevin O’Donnell, cellist Julie Kent, and Thomas himself on guitars and bass.
Brooklyn-based Cat Martino takes on the lion’s share of vocal duties being featured as the sole vocalist on three of the album’s eleven tracks (“Burn Their Bodies”, “Finally Out”, “Puppet Spinning”), as well as appearing on duets with alt singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur and former Ride vocalist Mark Gardener (“Blind & Closed” and “Life On The Wire”, respectively). Martino’s vocals are beautifully delivered throughout the album with fitting tone and controlled note deflections reminiscent of Sarah Mclachlan’s finest moments. The ghostly soulfulness of Joseph Arthur’s vocal adds grounding to the pristine production on tracks “Cut” and “Answers”. London up and comer Patrick Cooper sings “Agatha” and “Blink” with a balanced, breathy moodiness, while Mark Gardener’s higher pitched vocal adds measured uplift to “Love Like Ghosts”.
Album standouts include the subtly groovy “Finally Out”, and Gardener’s duet with Martino “Life On The Wire”, a dream-like closer with an ethereal aesthetic reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s “So”.
Spanning moods, tempos, grooves, and personnel it’s impressive the degree to which producer Will Thomas is able to keep the album cohesive and beautiful in it’s result. For lover’s of clean, well produced electro-acoustic music, Dive Index’s “The Surface We Divide” should be on your short list of acquisitions for 2010. Official Release Date: October 12, 2010.
Download “Cut” from PopMatters here.
Visit DI’s official website.