EP review: Modern Studies – The Body is a Tide

The Body is a Tide offers you a seat alongside an experimentalist on a journey, with brief pit stops along the way for some thoughts on mortality. The three track EP, created during the height of lockdown, captures a sense of the dreary psyche we may have stumbled upon during these darker days.

The EP is introduced with titular track ‘The Body Is A Tide’, allowing you to feel like you are travelling through the plains of an episode of True Detective. One can only picture Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle having an existential crisis in the front seat whilst T Bone Burnett takes control of the AUX cable as you follow signs for judgement day. And with Emily Scott’s melancholic vocals, what a soundtrack to the journey it would be.

The Body Is A Tide EP is the darker, doomier sibling to the Life Flows in Endless Song EP. ‘It nods at the idea of our collective bodies weathering distant times, played out with massed strings, prepared guitars, slow bass grooves, hypnotic drums and wobbling saw and mellotron,’ said the band.

Wondering what a ‘wobbling saw’ sounds like? Track two ‘The Naked Eye’, lets us hear – it’s just like it was in the cartoons. From here you delve deeper into the EP, thanks to ominous piano loops and delicate vocals. Seamlessly it flows into the penultimate track ‘High Hymn Summers’ as if there had been a change of seasons. The finale grabs you with a seductive cello and brings our thought-provoking ride to an end with the sound of birds chirping. Leaving you feeling as Rust Cohle and T Bone would have wanted: retrospective.

These addictively gloomy tracks are well-suited fit with its label, Fire Records. What is almost a 40 year old label has been described by Billboard Magazine as ‘the most elegant psychedelic pop label in the world’ is home to an ever-growing list of names. The Black Lips, Josephine Foster, Vanishing Twin and art punk band Half Japanese, to name a few.

The psychedelic Scottish quartet consisting of Emily Scott, Joe Smillie, Pete Harvey, and Rob St John recorded both EPs partly at Glasgow’s Glad Café Following the success of last year’s critically acclaimed album Weight of the Sun, under normal circumstances, Modern Studies would have been busy touring. In the absence of this however, it’s clear that they have used these murky days meaningfully and added to an already powerful collection. This record should be kept in the back pocket, handy for a drive through the Scottish Highlands.

The Body is a Tide is out now via Fire Records

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