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The Sea Nymphs - On The Dry Land album review

Album Review

Encouraging signs as material from Cardiacs side-project The Sea Nymphs finally emerges

For those uninitiated into the spellbinding world of Cardiacs, The Sea Nymphs were an extracurricular offshoot from the revered UK oddballs, featuring key members Tim Smith, Sarah Smith and William D Drake. Although instantly recognisable as part of Cardiacs’ eccentric world, the trio eschewed their alma mater’s remorseless melodic intricacy and bewildering dynamics in favour of a more sweetly psychedelic blend of wistful acoustic folk with added hints of chamber music.

Exactly why this, their second album, has been denied an official release for over two decades has yet to be fully explained, but such is the rabid devotion of Cardiacs fans that it’s hard to imagine a single one of them failing to emit squeaks of delight at the prospect of hearing these songs for the first time. Only three tracks have been aired previously, as part of a Radio 1 session in 1998, but the rest are utterly unfamiliar and all the more bewitching as a result. Chuck in the joyous news that Tim Smith has recovered sufficiently from his ongoing health concerns to have put long-awaited finishing touches to these recordings and On The Dry Land suddenly seems extremely important: a gentle return for the great man, perhaps, but a return of sorts nonetheless. If there’s any chance of the lost Cardiacs album surfacing too, that would be marvellous.

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