Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
One thing that the BBC series "Planet Earth" has taught us, through its stunning visual examples and repetition, is that a sea wolf (even if they exist only as characters in the books of Jack London) -- working with an atmosphere so paradox to the one most wolves would work with -- would probably make the aspects of Darwinism twice as strong. They would be like the very specific type of cacti that live in the middle of desert that sometimes doesn't get rain more than once every 50 years and has to rely on a morning fog to provide them with all of the water needed to survive. They're the camels that live off of desert snow. Watching wolves hunt for prey is like viewing desperation. They're almost always hungry and scrawny and sad-looking.
One protagonist in Alex Brown Church's Sea Wolf songs makes a resolution to never sing another sad song and that right there could be seen as the lonely hunter wolf talking, except that there's strength in that resolve. The sad songs that had already been sung hadn't broken the wolf down and therefore become unbearably difficult to participate in anymore. They'd steeled the wolf to the point where he didn't need them anymore. Church's main character doesn't need sad songs anymore and though the residue of them will likely remain an eternity, they'll have just been smeared into the wolf's durable and thick coat, rubbed into the eyes of the lonely hunter and absorbed as helpful history.
Sea Wolf music is soft and delicate, but it doesn't pander to clean or overwrought celebration of melancholy like so many songwriters, sinking into the easy chair that autopilots them to the perfect amount of emotional disagreement and lingering perplexity at the injustice of it. Church allows for the heart and the intellectual mind to explore the different folds of interaction and what is produced is the work of a sensational new voice that looks and sounds like a sea wolf, should you ever see one.
* Essay originally published in 2007
Sea Wolf Official Site