Case study — Swimming
As befits their name, Swimming are a fluid proposition. Moving seamlessly between genres, moods and textures, their strange but affecting sound is crafted with genuine pop instincts as the starting point. The resulting set of songs, though hard to pigeonhole, feel truly unique.
Whilst their songs are far-reaching and musically fantastical, Swimming’s roots are somewhat closer to home. The band is the brainchild of idiosyncratic lead-vocalist John Sampson, who has lived variously in Australia, England and Cocos Island (before settling in Nottingham). He formed Swimming with his brother Peter - a former UK champion beatboxer – together with Andy Wright, Joff Spittlehouse and Blake Pearson (who creates the band's artwork). Their music is still self-produced in a small ex-mining town in Notts, balancing tradition with invention (location and field recordings integrated with full studio and bedroom production).
Their first single - ‘Sun in the Island’ - received across-the-board support from Radio 1, NME, The Fly, Q and The Times. It was released earlier this year via New York's influential East Village Radio, and their label EVR Records. Unfortunately local hardcore outfit Equal Vision Records threatened to sue the station if they continued to use that label name and Swimming were left without a home. Tummy Touch boss Tim "Love" Lee, who has a weekly show on EVR, had fallen in love with the band and with the stations blessing offered the band an album deal. Their current single ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’ has picked up where its predecessor left off, but expands the band’s kaleidoscopic horizons once more. Named after the crystals used in early transistor radios (“the first instruments of modern-mass-communication”), this is an imaginative blend of swirling synths, psychedelic rock, drum machines and intense, melodic pop.
And so it proves to be across this second album – ‘Ecstatics International’ is an ambitious and inventive record, and beneath these otherworldly sounds and the sense of undertaking an odyssey lies a genuine warmth, and real lyrical depth. ‘In Ecstatics’, is about “choosing your outlook from a more universal, global perspective”, and this gentle thread of positivity that runs throughout their lyrics neatly reflects Swimming’s uniformly uplifting sound. ‘Ecstatics International’ is an album of escapist-pop, in the best possible sense: ‘All Things Made New (Stand)’ neatly encapsulates Swimming’s ability to translate the mundanity of daily routine into a sound to be submerged in. The rich and elegantly soulful ‘Team Jetstream’ is a stirring, almost meditative album finale.
Swimming’s willingness to experiment doesn’t end with ‘Ecstatics International’: the band are releasing new headphone-only, binaural videos for new single and b-side ‘Neutron Wireless Crystal’ and ‘Mining for Diamonds’ recorded on a beach in Bamburgh, UK. This September, they will also take their dynamic live show on tour with Austin Texas’ minimalists Love Inks, before announcing their own headline tour in November.