Synesthesia is defined as an involuntary joining of real information of one sense with the perception of another sense, such as seeing a color from a certain sound.
The sound of The Sea and Cake suggests synesthetic imagery, perhaps best described visually as a soft-hued impressionistic painting fused with the playful experimentation of cubism. Concertgoers can sample this Picasso of a band on Friday at St. Pete’s State Theatre.
The convergence of creative individuals in this band is extraordinary. In fact most of them were well-established artists long before this project. Sam Prekop is TS&C’s songwriter, singer and guitar player extraordinaire.
His critically acclaimed 1999 self-titled release was a continuation in a new direction of organic dream-pop, probably best suited for quiet reflection in isolated bedrooms as evening descends.
But possibly the most accomplished musician in this lineup of artists is John McEntire. The impressive list of bands he’s worked with as a musician and producer include: Joan of Arc, Trans Am, Stereolab and Snowpony. McEntire also helped form the band Tortoise. Almost single handedly, Tortoise pioneered a genre critics labeled “post rock,” a style that shrugs off rock ‘n’ roll conventions in favor of jazzy hooks and pensive beats while maintaining a gritty guitar influence.
The Sea and Cake, along with Tortoise, have turned their label, Thrill Jockey, into a post-rock mainstay for the indie landscape, but TS&C jams to a more adult-contemporary, wispy groove.
Before the band’s 1997 release, The Fawn, The Sea and Cake was seemingly just another ho-hum indie band trying to make its way out of the competitive Chicago scene. In only its first year together, TS&C released an eponymous LP, as well as Nassau and The Biz. In this short period, TS&C also took some experimental shots, including the use of a Roland space echo, as both instrument and manipulator. TS&C then released Oui, its warmest, most atmospheric effort yet.
Since the late ’90s, the band has sculpted a lush drone, reflecting Prekop’s love of perkier Brazilian music by way of a smoother electronic sound. In a trend negating their post-rock relations, The Sea and Cake became poppier on their latest album, One Bedroom, which will surely be featured in the band’s set list at State Theatre.
“Fourcorners” reflects the band’s current spirit, including a mellow acoustic melody reminiscent of Stereolab over a weighty synth background.
The song morphs into a softer Brian Eno venture as Prekop’s breathy vocals enter after three minutes of instrumental introduction. Other highlights include “Shoulder Length” — McEntire’s baby of analog synths and old-school rhythm, reflecting a rainbow of influences ranging from dub-reggae techno and hip-hop beats.
And “Hotel Tell” features a fun, heavy keyboard with retro-futurism. On One Bedroom, TS&C finally covers a song that actually fits the tone of the album. David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” is enveloping and lovely.
State Theatre hosting TS&C is remarkable because bands like that rarely come to Tampa.
Provided Bay area residents show their support for a band of this caliber, music lovers may look forward to a level of artistic integrity seldom found in these parts.