Sounds like Sgt Pepper walking through a forest one foggy spring morning
March 20, 2013 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Some know them for their astonishing pop sensibility, their tight rock performances, their theatricality, or of course for the fact that they sound like a fucking madhouse. But perhaps even better than the Cardiacs is their quiet little side project The Sea Nymphs, whose songs are calm and elegant, sometimes otherworldly or ethereal, sometimes jaunty and very grounded. The madness is more subdued, and the pop is lovelier (and more British) than ever; Appealing to Venus in particular sounds almost like it could have come from the Beach Boys. It's some of the most haunting and original music I know.
posted by Rory Marinich (14 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Been thinking about making a Cardiacs post forever. Glad someone did a good job of it! Hope Tim gets better.
posted by ericthegardener at 6:24 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Let's say I had some iTunes credit sitting around and wanted to get one of their albums. Which is the quintessential one?
posted by sourwookie at 7:06 PM on March 20, 2013

sourwookie: Cardiacs or The Sea Nymphs? If the latter, they really only have one album, self-titled.

If Cardiacs, there are two possible starting-out points based on which era you're interested in. A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window is recorded with a 7-person outfit that includes horns and percussion, and it's a bit more theatrical and carnival-feeling. Sing to God came out after they'd stripped down to a 4-person outfit and they feel more like a rock group than a performing act on it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:28 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Phrases like "astonishing sensibility" always rub me the wrong way when they're applied to something that's taste-based.
posted by esoterica at 7:44 PM on March 20, 2013

No Sea Nymphs on iTunes it seems. Looking into The Cardiacs then.
posted by sourwookie at 8:01 PM on March 20, 2013

I'd probably go with "A Little Man...". That one's got some really great stuff, including "R.E.S." and the surprisingly poppy "Is This The Life?".
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2013

Ah, I totally recognize "Is This The Life?".

These samples are reminiscent of so many things: The Sparks, Oingo Boingo, Madness, The Jellyfish. Thanks!
posted by sourwookie at 8:11 PM on March 20, 2013

I love how you have the hyper frantic "R.E.S.", and then right in the middle is a really pretty, Zappa-esque solo. That's one of the things I love with Cardiacs, is that not only can they just turn on a dime, but sometimes they can do really... pretty stuff too? (And the stuff that is less pretty is still catchy and good as all get out.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:23 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

You created a fan, Rory. Need to see them live now. Thanks!
posted by sensate at 9:00 PM on March 20, 2013

Sea Nymphs is one of my go to albums when I need to be reminded that there is indeed magic and mystery somewhere in this world. It seems to come from a place parallel to, but not quite identical to, this universe -- but that could be said of all things Cardiacs-related. The Mare's Nest concert from 1990 is a wall of insanity and adoration, peaking with "Big Ship", and demonstrates pure confidence, genius and power.

Listening to Cardiacs can be bittersweet for me, because it has seemed so unlikely that Tim will ever get to do this on stage again.
posted by vverse23 at 9:15 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I checked out Sing to God after seeing it mentioned somewhere here, either on the blue or the green, and have been a diehard Cardiacs fan since. Mostly of A Little Man... and Sing to God, as I don't find their other albums as complete and amazing as those two. In any case, definitely checking out the Sea Nymphs now. Thanks!
posted by cthuljew at 11:46 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's SO NICE, to see friends of Cardiacs and their extended friends.

And don't forget the works of Mr. W. D. Drake. Delightful! Stupendous!

I wrote this in the past....
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 4:49 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

> The Mare's Nest concert from 1990 is a wall of insanity and adoration, peaking with "Big Ship", and demonstrates pure confidence, genius and power.

That's my favourite concert film ever, perfectly conveys the atmosphere of the best Cardiacs gigs. Wonderful band.
posted by ceiriog at 10:05 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Homemade Interossiter, your post was my introduction to that great Quietus article, and an entry point to my occasionally growing knowledge of Cardiacs lore and musical output. It's a fascinating and rewarding avocation. As a musician and piano teacher, I'd consider it a disservice to myself to not try to learn Tim's musical dialect.
posted by vverse23 at 7:01 PM on March 21, 2013

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