|Album Rating: A-|
The most curious thing about On Land and in the Sea, though, is that it's never actually unenjoyable. The entire thing is mysteriously catchy, and Cardiacs have done an exceptional job of straddling the line between trite and impossible to listen to. It's difficult, no doubt, and listening to the whole album presents a daunting task. However, said task can in fact be construed as fun, even if that definition of "fun" does not include sadomasochism. Every song, even the aforementioned tempo shifting ones like "The Stench of Honey" and "Two Bites Of Cherry," keeps a coherent structure throughout the entire piece, and it's almost possible to see the so-called method behind the madness that Cardiacs utilize quite well. For example, "Baby Heart Dirt," while difficult to describe without nonsensensical techno-jargon, is somehow fun with its crunchy guitars, strings and piano, and mostly understandable format. It's incredibly complex, but at the same time it's accessible given just a little bit of auditory work.
That being said, though, it feels like sometimes Cardiacs are being avant-garde for the sake of being avant-garde. It's a phenomenon that's difficult to avoid with this type of music, but for an excellent album such as this it's just a little too prone to following some sort of twisted formula. It feels like every song uses some sort of disorienting tempo change, meter change, weird harmonies, or some combination. This criticism may just be me looking too deeply into an excellent and influential album that's difficult but rewarding, though. On Land and in the Sea is quite an interesting work, and for all its weirdness it's still an endearing album. It won't endear itself to everybody, but it's fascinating nonetheless.
1. Two Bites of Cherry
2. Baby Heart Dirt
3. The Leader of the Starry Skies
4. I Hold My Love in My Arms
5. The Duck and Roger the Horse
7. Horse Head
8. Fast Robert
9. Mare's Nest
10. The Stench Of Honey
11. Buds and Spawn
12. The Safety Bowl
13. The Everso Closely Guarded Line