Karl Blau Beneath Waves

Karl Blau has been a staple of the Anacortes and Olympia, Washington indie scenes for years now. He’s worked with the usual suspects: the Microphones, Little Wings, D+ and Wolf Colonel, and released critically acclaimed home-recorded oddities on the Knw-yr-Own label. Beneath Waves marks his K Records debut, and man, is it one huge creative leap forward in comparison to his previous work. The musical interplay is absolutely spellbinding in its humble, elegant use of repetition and arrangement, bringing to mind such musical touchstones as Olivia Tremor Control, Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Paul Simon’s Graceland (for real) and even a light, airy Public Image Ltd, circa Metal Box, all while retaining a warm indie rock heart and playful honesty throughout. But really, Blau’s style on Beneath Waves is all his own, and what a unique, loose and moving style it is — fluid and sparkling as the water that makes up the album’s recurring theme, in songs like "Crashing Waves,” "Ode to Ocean” and "The Dark, Magical Sea.” Among the finest moments are the reggae-tinged vibes of "Into the Nada” and the slow-building, Tindersticks-esque "Shadow.” Beneath Waves is highly commendable and completely engrossing, a tender creative leap into joyous enlightenment. (K)