When you think "island music," you probably hear the wind-chime rattle of steel drums and picture a sandy beach filled with billowing white linen. But when Austin's Shearwater makes island music, you hear the soundtrack to Darwin's journey to the Galapagos--it's unquestionably epic, filled with curiosity and tumult. Singer Jonathan Meiburg's piercing falsetto echoes majestically off the churning waters as the piano hull of the boat crashes into the string-filled shore.
What makes Shearwater's latest release, The Golden Archipelago, island music is fairly literal--each track on the album depicts a different island somewhere in the world--everywhere from the Bikini Atoll to the Falklands. On the song "Black Eyes," Meiburg sings of the South Pacific city of Nan Madol, a place that was inhabited until 1500, after which time it was slowly abandoned. Now, the decayed islands can only be visited with permission from the government of the Federated States of Micronesia. Sound obscure? Damn right it is.
Recipient of the Thomas J. Watson fellowship to study life in remote human communities, Meiburg has visited and been inspired by a number of these far-off locales. In fact, there's so much information associated with The Golden Archipelago that the band had to put out a limited edition "Golden Dossier"--an envelope-bound catalog of various images and stories collected from Meiburg's expeditions--to accompany the album. The "Dossier" is now out of print, but free copies can still be downloaded from shearwatermusic.com, which we suggest you consider doing before heading to see the show at Neurolux on Saturday, May 1.
In a recent interview with adequacy.net, Meiburg answered the question, "How do you feel when your album leaks?" in the following way: "Go, litel bok ... And red whereso thow be, or elles songe, That thow be understood, God I biseche!" Makes you feel like going back to school, huh?
Saturday, May 1, 7:30 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show, $5, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886, neurolux.com.