July 19, 2016 — “Vital Signs” by Strata Florida

Louise Trehy (Strata Florida)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Vital Signs” by Strata Florida (2016, from a forthcoming album (title and release date TK)).
Strata Florida is a shoegaze/dream pop duo from Aberystwyth, Wales. Really, though, the project is centered around Louise Trehy. Even if you haven’t read my previous post about Strata Florida, or my Best of 2014 list, in which I named the first Strata Florida record my ninth favourite record of the year, you might still recognize Trehy’s name. She was one half of the marvelous shoegaze/dream pop duo Swallow way, way back in the “golden age of indie rock”. That band’s only record came out in 1992 via 4AD records, and it was probably one of my top ten records of that decade, and remains one of my favourite records ever. It really spoke to me, and I have a lot of fond memories of listening to that record. Unfortunately, things within the band, and things with 4AD both went pear-shaped, and that was the only album we got from them. After that band dissolved, Trehy moved from London to Wales and removed herself from the music industry for two decades.
After the passage of much time, and after spending some time singing in a choir, and with some trepidation, Trehy re-emerged into the dream pop scene with a new project and a new approach. She tried working with loads of people, and it took some doing, but she finally found a good musical partner in Pete Pavli. They quietly started working together in 2012, and in 2014, they released their debut record Made of Stars via Saint Marie Records. Several months ahead of the album, I got some emails about the new developments, and I was really excited. I heard some of the details, including how much the recording of the album was inspired by the Cocteau Twins record Treasure. The finished Strata Florida product exceeded my expectations. And it changed the way I rated my favourite Cocteaus records.

A couple of years have passed, and Trehy has continued to hone and improve her skills with the guitar and in the studio. A few days ago, she shared a three song sampler of her forthcoming album. Unfortunately, the release date, the title, and even the label are all up in the air. So far, we’re just hoping that the album will be out this year. Presumably, it’ll be self-released.

The three new songs are terrific, and you can check out the lot here. Today’s song is my favourite of the group. This is that song:
“Vital Signs” by Strata Florida

She told me that this song is about dealing with the death of her ex-spouse. She said it’s about going through grief and simultaneously experiencing some guilt. That’s a tough road to go down, and while I don’t have experience with it, I have friends who have been down the exact same road.

As is par for the course, her dreamy vocals are treated in such a way that the lyrics are nearly impossible to discern, but I’ll take her word, and you’ll have to take mine. Despite the theme, there’s a certain brightness to this, and you can definitely tell that she’s a huge Cocteaus fan. There’s a lot that reminds me of “Lorelei”, off of the aforementioned Treasure.

Once again, the forthcoming album is sort of up in the air, but you can get the first Strata Florida record here, and you should absolutely get the magnificent record by Swallow here. Blow is seriously one of my favorite records ever.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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