CD released: Mar 01, 2024

1. The Wild Whaling Life
2. (my) Theory Of Everything
3. Platypus Wow
4. Phase Change
5. Foreign Sounds
6. The Wake Of St. Brendan
7. Deep Blue
8. The Baited Line
9. Barber Booty
10. Deep Sea Vents
Cat No: ZAPPO005
Barcode: 691835885834
Packaging: CD Sleeve

CJ Camerieri had never seen anyone enjoy live music the way Bruce Hornsby did. At the
expansive Eaux Claires Festival in the Summer of 2016, yMusic, cofounded by trumpeter
Camerieri a decade earlier, was in the midst of premiering a program with English folk trio
The Staves. Camerieri glanced to the side of the stage and spotted a basketball-tall man in
sweatpants, bouncing around and beaming to what was being played feet away: Hornsby,
of course. After the set, he raved to the combined ensembles, inviting them to his own
Virginia festival. A collaboration on Hornsby's 2019 album, Absolute Zero, followed, as did a
short spate of shows in the early days of soon-to-be-doomed March 2020.
For those five dates, yMusic's other cofounder, violinist Rob Moose, hatched an idea: What if
they wrote a song together and offered it up every night, the unexpected and previously
unheard encore? And so, 'Deep Sea Vents'-an almost-vaudeville prance, with horns
splashing and bass diving, a musical simulacrum of the teeming underwater world Hornsby
delightfully described-was born. Every night, the song became a cumulative joy, like a
triumphant showtune from an aquatic musical that didn't exist.
'Deep Sea Vents' is now the finale and title track of a spirited full-length collaboration
between Hornsby and yMusic (BrhyM, you can call them), built with the same enthusiasm
and openness that both parties spotted in one another on that steamy day eight years ago.
An album of 10 songs about water and the ways we live with, in, or against it, Deep Sea Vents
is Hornsby and yMusic as you have never heard them but also instantly identifiable in their
own ways. His instant melodic ease joins their rhythmic precision and endless versatility,
pulling each toward new currents.
Together, they turn the various states of water into a metaphor for a difficult first date over
drinks during 'Phase Change,' Hornsby's piano climbing the ladder of yMusic's pizzicato
plucks and woodwind smears. And in their hands, the existential anxiety of exploration
becomes a funky strut stuck somewhere between triphop and Ligeti for 'Deep Blue,' with
Hornsby on electric sitar. Just as the ocean reminds us of how much we have to learn about
our world, Deep Sea Vents reflects just how limitless musicians in one another's mutual
thrall can be.
Several months after the pandemic scuttled all future plans, Moose again asked Hornsby if
he might be interested in writing more songs with yMusic. Sequestered in his Virginia studio,
Hornsby readily accepted. yMusic began dispatching pieces to him, only to be stunned by
how quickly he would respond with finished songs, rising to meet even their most abstract
ideas with inexhaustible lan. The dipping horns and slashing strings of one offering became
the prompt for a quasi-rap, Hornsby detailing the life and eccentricity of the egg-laying
mammal on 'Platypus Wow.' During another, wispy dissonance yielded suddenly to devilish
strings and shouting horns, as though some faction of an orchestra had rebelled against
sonority; for Hornsby, it became 'Barber Booty,' a madcap advertisement for pirate
escapades. Much to yMusic's surprise, Hornsby changed very little about their songs but
instead found ways to situate himself inside them, for his hooks to become the anchors of
their instrumentals and then respond, more or less, with a what-else-ya-got gusto.
Every song on Deep Sea Vents betrays this same sense of wonder, musically and
conceptually. Neither Hornsby nor yMusic set out to write a record about a world of water,
but Hornsby simply found that's where his adult curiosity about science and most everything
else happened to lead him. Finally reading Moby-Dick, for instance, he was shocked by
Herman Melville's humor, so he lends that delight to opener 'Wild Whaling Life,' his
dulcimer lifting a refrain that works as a proclamation of pride.
'The Wake of St. Brendan' stemmed from The New York Times' obituary of Tim Severin, a
sailor who re-created the arduous journeys of early explorers. His voice warped by
electronics and teased by strings, Hornsby sings a hymn not just for Severin but for anyone
who's found an unorthodox way of existing, of following an obsession to the very ends of the
earth. And the gorgeous but heartbreaking 'Foreign Sounds' finds Hornsby picking up the
croon of George Jones to share the perspective of a clownfish, lost at sea because of the
underwater noise pollution that is currently wrecking ecosystems. The song comes from
Hornsby's rapacious reading, but it is much more than an academic exercise; it is, instead, a
true ballad for the blighted, the heartsick, and the stranded.
Early into Deep Sea Vents, during '(My) Theory of Everything,' Hornsby adds meaty chords
to yMusic's delicate string whorls and sputtering horn lines. He steadily relays the story of a
scientist in a nearby aquatic research lab, checking for pollution and analyzing data to do his
job. 'I love marine research, saving estuaries,' Hornsby sings, a slight wink in his delivery. As
this anonymous expert goes about his day, he's also developing his theory of everything in
secret, building a unified framework for how the world really works.
It is a reminder of the depth that people, like the ocean, ferry beneath the surface. That is, it's
sort of like the pianist with some decades-old radio hits singing strangely beguiling and
empathetic songs about sea life and the lives we make there with an esteemed new music
ensemble-the one, that is, that kept offering up invitations to play because they recognized
a kindred spirit when they saw one, bouncing along there on the side of the stage