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Album Review: Of The Hidden Sea EP
Christopher Dicker and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
Cover image of the album Of The Hidden Sea EP by Christopher Dicker and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
Of The Hidden Sea EP
Christopher Dicker and The Outlaw Ocean Music Project
2020 / Synesthesia Media
9 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Of The Hidden Sea EP is Australian composer /pianist Christopher Dicker's contribution to The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, an awe-inspiring body of music created by more than 400 artists from all over the world. The music expresses each artist's reactions to Ian Urbina's best-selling book, The Outlaw Ocean. The book chronicles many of Urbina's experiences with the lawlessness and crimes that are committed every day on the world's ocean waters. He spent four years at sea, documenting piracy, human trafficking, pollution, animal cruelty and so much more in an effort to bring attention and hopefully put an end to these unfathomable crimes. It's an incredibly well-written book that affected me deeply.

Of The Hidden Sea is a three-song EP that includes dramatic piano and keyboard music, recordings of Ian Urbina speaking, and field recordings of some of the sounds heard at sea. In Dicker's words:

"That’s what I wanted to highlight with my songs — the truth of living at sea that Ian has worked to reveal with each piece of journalism he writes. Everything Ian touches on is grounded in reality, as opposed to something more abstract, and getting the chance to convey that by combining my artistry with Ian’s library of field recordings was new territory for me. I’ve tried to capture a vastness in these pieces in a way that makes the listener feel like they’re on a little boat amid the enormous undulating sea. I named my EP “Of the Hidden Sea” to allude to the trials hidden from society by the ocean as well as the enigmatic nature of the vast expanse of water. It’s the last great unexplored and untamed frontier, and I wanted to capture that in every way with this music."

Of The Hidden Sea begins with "Untamed," a keyboard and piano piece that includes Urbina speaking about the ocean and what it means to many people. The music expresses a vastness and openness most of us will never fully experience - very powerful music! "40 Rounds / 10:26" again combines piano and keyboard with field recordings of sounds I can't identify but that add to the dark drama and atmosphere of the music. Both beautiful and unsettling, it's a very effective piece. "Shadowlands" features spoken words that are often difficult to understand, but that pertain to Australia and New Zealand. Slow, open piano and an intense repeated string pattern seem to issue a dire warning that needs no words to express how important it is.

To learn more about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project and the hundreds of artists who are participating, be sure to visit https://www.theoutlawoceanmusic.com. Of The Hidden Sea can be purchased or streamed at that site as well as Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify and others. Be sure to check it out!
August 21, 2021