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The Sea Nymphs

Crossover Prog

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The Sea Nymphs The Sea Nymphs album cover
3.60 | 12 ratings | 5 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Spirit Spout (2:20)
2. Shaping The River (2:07)
3. Nil In The Nest (1:53)
4. A Thousand Strokes And A Rolling Suck (2:18)
5. Christ Alive (3:24)
6. Mr Drake's Big Heart (0:17)
7. Lucky Lucy (2:23)
8. Gods Box (1:54)
9. Piano Interlude (0:44)
10. Up In Annie's Room (3:37)
11. Mr Drake's Big Heart Reprise (0:17)
12. The Psalm Of Life (2:37)
13. The Corner Of Sin (2:38)
14. Tree Tops High (2:36)
15. Dog Eat Spine (2:51)
16. Sarah On A Worm (2:47)
17. Lilly White's Party (5:14)
18. Appealing To Venus (2:34)
19. Abade (4:19)

Total time 46:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Smith / lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Sarah Smith / saxophones, clarinet, recorders, percussion, backing vocals
- William D. Drake / keyboards, organ, backing vocals

Releases information

MC Promo Self-released (1992, UK) Promotional release

CD The Alphabet Business Concern - ALPH CD021 (1995, UK)

LP The Alphabet Business Concern - ALPH LP021 (2016, UK)

FLAC download -

Thanks to frippism for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE SEA NYMPHS The Sea Nymphs ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE SEA NYMPHS The Sea Nymphs reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by frippism
4 stars 4.5 quite frankly

It is a great pleasure for me to see the Sea Nymphs on the Archives. A rather strange and intriguing project, the Sea Nymphs consist of three past and present Cardiacs members: Cardiacs leader Tim Smith, former Cardiacs sax player Sarah Smith (formerly Tim's wife, now known as Sarah Cutts), and former Cardiacs keyboard genius William D. Drake. The album itself is a strange monster. A wonderful floating creature coming to bless your heart with a dose of beautiful and touching melodies which are very Cardiacs, but the sound is completely different. Gone is the punky headbanging of Cardiacs epicness, and more prominent the folky and very Anglo-Saxon sound (it just sounds English, you know what I mean). And so you here also find something for someone who really can't stand the insane barrage of sound Cardiacs but is intrigued by the beautiful melodies hidden in between (like me own papa for example).

The album is comprised by a bunch of random recordings done by our lovely folks, but it slides from song to song in rather dashing way. The very atmospheric and rather unsettling aura is kept throughout the whole albums and is the mood is very cloudy and and winter- ish. You feel like they played this in a forest in a random October morning.

Highlights: The folky pan flute fun of Nil in the Nest, Lucky Lucy and its shimmering keyboards, The mesmerizing and sobering Up In Annie's room, which feature Tim Smith's greatest lyrics in my honest opinion, the truly wonderful and mind blowingly beautiful The Psalms Of Life, the glorious piano fun Of Dog Eat Spine, the chilling instrumental Sarah On A Worm, Lily White's Party and its glorious sing along fun, and the mystic, emotional joy of Abade, beautifully sung by Sarah Smith.

The sound is mainly focused on eerie keyboard effects and beautiful vocals, without really any percussion or drums except for Abade. The songs tend to be rather simple in a technical sense but Tim Smith being the master mixer and producer he is manages to bring the complex arrangements to the forefront and deliver a immersing experience. William D. Drake's piano lines are always such a treat to hear that every time I hear Dog Eat Spine I get a huge smile on my face!

For every fan of Cardiacs should without a doubt hear this album. Unfortunately at the moment it is almost impossible to get any physical copy, or a digital copy! I hope for people that Alphabet Business Concern picks up again after Tim gets better, so people will be able to get their hands on it. For now if you manage to get a copy consider yourself lucky! And hang on to it! Not only is it quite the rare album, but the music is also rather excellent.

Review by Dobermensch
5 stars I'm so pleased to see this wonderful album added to the archives at last! Imagine the 'Cardiacs' but far more beautiful and atmospheric. Gone are the guitars, shouty vocals and manic tempo shifts.

William Drake takes centre stage with his superbly watery and sometimes reverbed piano and synths adding a rather folky and aquatic sound to the overall feel of 'The Sea Nymphs'.

Next to 'Sing to God' I think this is the best 'Cardiacs' album available. (Don't let the name fool you... The Sea Nymphs are basically the 'Cardiacs' under a different moniker).

Unfortunately you'll have a real hard time getting hold of this recording now. I bought mine in 1993 and have never seen another copy since...

Sometimes melancholic, occasionally beautiful but mostly dreamy (in a non cheesy way), and always engaging. I love his album to bits. I can understand why it didn't fall under the 'Cardiacs' umbrella - as it's very different in sound and feeling to their recordings, but in my opinion is every bit as good as their best releases. Tim Smith shows a side to his singing that I've not heard before or since. A voice that could, believe it or not, do beautiful things.

An exquisite little strange album that defies categorisation.

One of the prettiest, smoothest flowing recordings I've ever heard... LONG LIVE TIM!

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Hard to believe this is the same core group of musicians who made up the Cardiacs. This stuff is as artsy and appealingly simple as anything that band did, but at the same time there is a beauty and peacefulness to these short tracks that was certainly not a characteristic of most of the Cardiacs' music.

The most striking thing about these songs is the absence of drums or really any percussion for the most part, nearly all the instrumental parts being provided by a couple of synthesizer keyboards along with a smattering of guitar from time to time. The stilted organ is overpowering at times, giving songs like 'Up in Annie's Room', 'Appealing to Venus' and 'Christ Alive' a heavy and brooding feel when laid atop Sarah Smith's somber vocals. Yet at other times the sound is more like a throwback to simpler times with acoustic-sounding synth woodwinds and minstrelly vocals delivered by the Smiths in unison with backing by Will D. Drake ('Dog Eat Spine', 'Mr. Drake's Big Heart Reprise', 'Nil in the Nest').

And still elsewhere Ms. Smith delivers her own form of vocals in theatrical form, almost vaudevillian at times and especially with the weirdly titled 'A Thousand Strokes and a Rolling Suck' and 'Tree Tops High'.

I'm not exactly sure what to make of this record. I don't really think it's a progressive music album per se, but it certainly is eclectic enough to avoid being classified as commercial or pop in any way whatsoever.

For fans of the Cardiacs I'm sure this is a conversation piece sort of like the Knitters albums were for X fans. Beyond that I'm not sure I'd recommend it for general consumption although I am quite intrigued by what seems to be a strong sense of purpose on the part of all three players. I'm just not sure what the purpose was, and the 'band', as it were, decided not to let most of us casual observers in on the story so we're left to scratch our heads and slide this one back into the stack. Three stars just because it piques my curiosity and is kind of fund to listen to.


Review by Lewian
3 stars Tim Smith, Sarah Smith and William D. Drake take some time off the Cardiacs here to play some music that is in one sense quite different and in another sense quite similar to the mothership. The songs on this one are rather calm and slow and keyboard oriented, which is quite different from what we know of the Cardiacs. There is little guitar and hardly any drums. On the other hand there are some typically twisted Cardiacs melodies, surprises and histrionic craziness. One of the unexpected influences is church songs.

The album is now again available from the Alphabet Business Concern, so I took the opportunity to get this work of the three musicians that to me seem central in at least the 80s incarnation of the Cardiacs. As well as of the Cardiacs I consider myself a fan of William D. Drake's solo work, so I had high expectations for this one.

Now it is undeniably original and unique, but unfortunately to me it doesn't work that well. I think that they somehow got the sound wrong here. As other Cardiacs work this has quite strong high frequencies, particularly in Tim's singing and some of the keyboards. This doesn't really play to the strengths of the compositions, which have rather different qualities than Cardiac-like sharpness. The reverb was clearly overdone, which doesn't help. Tim's voice isn't so good for this kind of song, but he does most singing. Also, his voice is rather high and a bit thin and I don't think these features should emphasised even more in the mix. William's voice is not yet as confident as in later work. The vocal highlights come from Sarah whose optimistic naive voice is irresistible (and much too seldom heard in the Cardiacs). Also a proper drummer could have improved this; there is something to say for trash esthetics, but still I'd have appreciated some swing here; where percussion appears it's pretty static.

On the positive side, there is a number of memorable melodies and some great keyboard parts particularly on the piano (Drake does great things also on other keys but the dubious choice of sounds affects the pleasure somewhat; although perhaps it's fitting for Sea Nymphs that some of this sounds like under water). Although one finds the odd uninspired one out of the 19 songs here, overall the compositions are very worthwhile and there is still a lot to appreciate here, although I'd have wished the execution and the sound to be better. So overall it's fairly good and very special, but still not more than 3 stars for its flaws.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. This was an interesting album as we get three CARDIACS members in Tim Smith, Sarah Smith and William Drake creating an album that they felt either wasn't worthy enough to be played under the CARDIACS name or just too different. Oh, you can tell right from the start that this is CARDIACS, it's just much more stripped down, simpler and laid back overall. Of the 19 tracks only 4 are over 3 minutes. Still I really enjoyed the music here but I do miss that insanity. Piano, synths and vocals lead the way and there's little in the way of drums or guitar.

"The Spirit Spout" is loud and experimental to start as we get this mechanical sounding rhythm. It's all replaced by the organ, then the vocals and more join in. Piano and a calm after 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals have stopped. "Shaping The Rhythm" opens with those chipmunk sounding vocals as piano helps out. Soon it's piano only but not for long as the multi-vocals return. "Nil In The Nest" opens with Sarah on vocals along with piano before both are blown away by male vocals and a heavier sound. Contrasts continue. "A Thousand Strokes And A Rolling Suck" features male vocals and a bright, happy sound. "Christ Alive" has these 80' sounding synths along with organ as the male vocals join in. It's okay. "Mr. Drakes Big Heart" is 19 seconds of uptempo piano and it will be reprised at track 11. "Lucky Lucy" is a top three for me. This one has an epic vibe to it even though it's a 2 1/2 minute tune. A feel good track all the way. "Gods Box" is led by Sarah's sweet vocals.

"Piano Interlude" is just that for under a minute. "Up In Annie's Room" has male vocals, synths and organ. This is majestic sounding just like Annie's room I'm sure. "The Psalm Of Life" opens with recorder as male vocals join in with piano and more. "In The Corner Of Sin" is like listening to a choir at Christmas to be honest, at least the vocals are the focus here. "Tree Tops High" again has this majestic feel to it and again the vocals are the focus, lots of synths as well. "Dog Cat Spine" is catchy with a strong 80's vibe. Fun stuff. Lots of piano, synths and vocals. Dissonant piano late. Yay! "Sarah On A Worm" is another top three for me. This just sounds so darn good, moving is the word with piano and synths leading the way. And no vocals! Nice. "Lily White's Party" is good as well with those nature sounds and that rhythm that seems to pulse slowly. Reserved vocals do join in but soon it's multi-vocals. "Appealing To Venus" is my final top three. Such an uplifting vocal track with organ leading the way instrumentally. "Abade" is led by piano and Sarah's sweet vocals.

I'm not enjoying this enough to click 4 stars and for my tastes it's a definite step down from some of CARDIACS' best albums. Still there's quite a bit to enjoy here and keep in mind that CARDIACS fans seem to love this as they do all things related to CARDIACS.

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