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Beachcomber's Windowsill
The folk rock sounds of over a hundred instruments on British band Stornoway's first album
by Laura Neilson
on 05 October 2010
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Five years in the making, Stornoway's recently-released debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill like so many records before it, is the story of a homegrown musical enterprise. The band of Brits, named after a town on the Scottish isle of Lewis, met and honed their earnest, folk-rock style at the University of Oxford, where an eight-track recorder served as their primary means of laying down songs.

But for whatever they lacked in recording equipment, the quartet made up for in sound. Fast-forward to Beachcomber's Windowsill, an album delivers over a hundred various instrumental notes—from the echoing chimes of a church bell and the signals of a Morse code message to the indecipherable sound of carrots being chopped.

Sensationally disorienting, the love song "Zorbing" kicks off the album, leading with a choir-like effect that builds to an excitedly robust crescendo. Frontman Brian Briggs explains the title, which takes its name from a slightly madcap activity involving a person rolling down hills inside a large, transparent ball, "I thought zorbing would make a good metaphor for how I was feeling at the time when I wrote the song."

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"If you listen closely, you can hear stuff like various band members muttering, lots of hiss and funny little details that you would normally clean up if you were in a studio," Briggs says of the album's audible quirks, which he and the band deliberately chose to preserve. While an amalgamation of sounds, the album is a thoroughly complete work, featuring 11 tracks of mostly-acoustic offerings ranging from fast-paced and riff-heavy ("Watching Birds" and "I Saw You Blink") to gently wistful ("Long Distance Lullabye").

Look out for the band on tour in the U.S. starting mid-November 2010. Beachcomber's Windowsill sells online from Amazon and iTunes.

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