Heavy of atmosphere, rich in melody, rippled with an air of malice and flowing female and male vocals, On Dead Waves’ eponymous debut album is immediately arresting. You haven’t heard them like this before, but you might already know the two members. One is James Chapman, better known as Maps, whose critically acclaimed debut «We Can Create» was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2007, and whose latest album «Vicissitude» came out in 2013. The other is Polly Scattergood, the electrically-charged singer-songwriter who signed to Mute aged just 22 and whose second album «Arrows» was also released in 2013.
In their solo careers, each is known for their own branch of electronic music. Together, the parts add up to an unexpected whole, thanks in part to the two artists finding a different way of working together. «We’d both previously spent a lot of time alone and introverted in the studio», says Polly. «We enjoyed this new experience because it was all a bit unknown.»
The seeds of their creative partnership were sown in 2011, at a special event celebrating Mute at London’s Roundhouse. It took some time to clear space in schedules, but James and Polly reconvened in February 2014 to make good on the idea of working together. James’ home studio in the countryside provided the perfect location, and the environment soon started to shape the sound of the music – the sense of calm feeding into the disquieting feel of the album, the landscape providing inspiration for the lyrics.
Speaking of inspiration, the pair cite art and imagery – from Edward Hopper’s sodium-lit scenes to Gregory Crewdson’s skewed suburban landscapes – which seemed more important to the feel of the album than any specific musical influences.
At this last showcase at Music Apartment, On Dead Waves will present a selection of songs from their self-titled debut album.