The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea – album released 23rd Feb. on Joyful Noise Recordings
“One second you’re dozing off in the passenger seat on the way to a gig, and the next, there’s fire and hell flames and black smoke and your face is bleeding and you can’t see, and you can’t process information, and you think it’s all over.” Jeff Prystowsky is describing one of the scariest moments in his life, as The Low Anthem’s tour van crashed and subsequently wiped out Prystowsky for several weeks, as well as wrecking loads of their gear and instruments in the process.
However, the accident also acted as an inadvertent impetus for their latest record whilst Prystowsky was in recovery: a John Cage-influenced concept record. A beautiful, elegiac and largely acoustic – though peppered with subtle yet immersive electronics and humming ambience – album of twelve tracks that barely stretch past the two-minute mark. Recalling the more progressive moments of artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Lambchop, it’s a record of a deep richness, loaded with extreme subtleties and with a space and delicacy counter to the group’s previous dense and complex album.
Prystowsky formed the band with Ben Knox Miller and after the huge success of their debut album, What The Crow Brings, the band signed to Nonesuch and Bella Union for their even more successful follow-up Oh My God, Charlie Darwin. They then returned to their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island and poured their energy into their local community by restoring a vaudeville-era theatre and building their own recording studio within.
This feeling of comfort, confidence and newfound identity shines through on The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea, an album that was triggered when Knox Miller was reading John Cage’s biography Where The Heart Beats, by Kay Larsen. Prystowsky elucidates: “Is a concept album with a story arc weaving through the songs like a constellation. It’s an underwater circular journey to the bottom of the sea following the salt doll who, attempting to measure the sea (and thus, know its true origins), in the end, becomes part of it. Along the way this non-human, conscious chemical compound, encounters all kinds of fantastical oceanic things.”