Record Review - 2 August 28 2003

Recorded live in several cities during Table of the Elements’ 2001 European showcase tour, San Agustin’s The Expanding Sea ebbs and flows with a murky and unwavering resilience. The three discs that make up the set feature the band, whose members are based in Atlanta and New York, creating droning instrumental waves that linger between moments of ominous tension and candle-lit reverberations. Documenting six performances that, when combined, stretch out for more than 132 minutes, the release flaunts a complex group of musicians bending the rules with formless simplicity.

Recorded in Villeurbanne and Grenoble, France, disc one captures guitarists Andrew Burnes and David Daniell, along with percussionist Bryan Fielden, crafting shimmering feedback that fades into warm, introspective washes of sound. The gently sloping arrangements evoke a tattered sense of Americana filled with rural, dream-like desperation.

Recorded in Brussels and Zurich, disc two fosters a similar mood, but reveals a more temperamental side of the music. Quiet arrangements bulge to a sweltering and chaotic peak of frenzied rhythms before sinking back into unwavering ripples of isolation. It’s a disturbing swell that brings about a sense of frustration, but is soon overcome by tranquility as the music resumes its course.

Disc three picks up in Berlin and Bordeaux, France, with calm clarity. Here the tension wanes, bringing the flowing motion of The Expanding Sea full circle and leaving off right where it started.??