Exposé Online banner

Toiling Midgets — Sea of Tranquility
(Green Monkey , 2019, LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-02-17

Sea of Tranquility Cover art

After seeing the name Toiling Midgets around for decades, Sea of Tranquility is my first time actually listening to them. This music could be described as (mostly) instrumental post-rock, though not of the variety that revels in lengthy tracks that build up very gradually to crashing finales. Their tunes are concise, in the two to five minute range, almost like a post-punk variation on the idea of surf rock — and by that I mean they take the overall sounds of their contemporary rock music and produce instrumental variations on it, much the same way that classic surf rock took the sounds of 60s rock and used instruments instead of vocals to carry the leads. If you imagine the alternative rock of the 80s and 90s, you’ll find a lot of those sounds here: distorted guitars drenched in reverb, throbbing bass lines, pounding drums heavy on the toms, washes of feedback. Each of the ten tracks on Sea of Tranquility is a distinctive entity, pulling the band’s sound in a slightly different direction, with “The Bugs” dispensing with the drums for free-floating atmospheres, “La Di Da” bringing in some vocals with an almost-bouncy beat, “Grazing Stars” featuring acoustic guitars and what might be backwards piano, and “The Long Summer,” which is just plain weird, with numerous vocalists singing and speaking in various languages over a backing that keeps changing, and sound effects of dogs barking and seagulls keening. In all, three of the tracks feature singing in a prominent role, and those are my least favorite tunes, though they are still enjoyable and contribute to the variety. While the individual tracks are relatively short, they are sequenced very nicely, providing the feeling of an epic journey through strange territory.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): Toiling Midgets

More info
http://greenmonkeyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sea-of-tranquility

Latest news

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Moraine - Manifest Density – Moraine is a new Seattle-based five-piece led by guitarist Dennis Rea (please refer to our feature on Mr. Rea in issue 23 for more background), joined by a rhythm section of bass and drums, plus a...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues