Akron music duo See Creatures has returned with a new two-song EP after a year-long hiatus.
The release contains the tracks “Queen of Cups,” also the title of the EP, and “Double Vision,” which was written by guitarist and singer Nate Bucher about his music partner and drummer Adam Murray’s elopement.
The slow, dreamy, underwater sound of the song meshes nicely with the fuzzy, psych-rock “Queen of Cups,” named for the tarot card that represents a caring, supportive female presence, along with one’s tendency to get lost in daydreams.
“We did do a lot of tarot cards and ate a lot of cookies,” Adam says.
The tracks were recorded between 2017 and late 2018 but released Jan. 1 of this year. Adam moved to Chicago with his wife but would return to Akron occasionally to play shows with Nate. During this time, the pair would hold impromptu sketch recording sessions to document off-the-cuff musical ideas.
“Then it would go in the hard drive for maybe a couple months, and then whenever he was gone, I’d pull them back up and add some keys, maybe some bass, and really work on vocal melodies,” Nate says.
Nate spent time working as an engineer and producer at Akron Recording Company while Adam was gone. Now that Adam has moved back to the Akron area and the pair is in close proximity, they focus on polishing older song ideas and getting back into the groove of playing their instruments, especially for local crowds.
“Live shows and studio recordings can vary pretty drastically sometimes because when you’re in the studio, you’re working with this unlimited palette that’s available to you,” Nate says.
While the pair intends to remain a “true duo,” their music continues to evolve as they make use of tools, sounds and effects to create a richer, fuller sound in the recording studio.
The song “Queen of Cups” is a bendy, spacy number that evolves into a snappy, singalong chorus. Adam says the tune started as a “Michael Jackson-type song” but warped into something else very quickly.
Nate says his childhood training in the Suzuki method of piano, which focuses heavily on learning music by ear, has influenced his and Adam’s tendency to improvise and not set hard limits on writing songs that fit into a certain box.
“What happens if we play it in the style of disco? What happens if we play it in the style of hip-hop? Or, what happens if we do something that’s like coffee-shop style? Just experimenting around with essentially different variations and remixes of the same kind of song,” Nate says.
See Creatures — the origin of the name is ambiguous — is a play on words while speaking to the essence of the psychedelic music the duo creates. Nate says he and Adam like to go on the type of “sonic voyage” present in psych music but from a two-piece perspective, which means the songs are often less of a long, meandering jam.
The pair’s 2017 album, “Aqua Doom,” got its title when they were trying to decide what genre See Creatures was. The use of delay, fuzz, reverb and phasers create a signature sound, while original ad-libbed lyrics are edited down to pull each song together.
“We have a tendency to basically take a pretty — as my dad has always described it — a laissez-faire approach to writing because we’re not necessarily the types of people who just, like, scrutinize over every last finite detail,” Nate says.
Nate and Adam began playing their genre-blurring brand of music together after meeting as Apple Store employees. They started hanging out, jamming and writing songs. In 2016, they were invited to open for The Dreemers at an album release show at Jilly’s.
The “Queen of Cups” EP has kicked off a new year, new decade and a new era of the band’s sound. In fact, Nate and Adam wiped much of their older recorded material as See Creatures from various streaming platforms with plans of reworking the songs and improving the quality of the recordings.
“There’s a couple songs that we just did on a four-track cassette recorder, and some of the quality isn’t necessarily there,” Nate says. “We took these songs we really liked and just put them in a meat grinder and then put them out on display.”
Nate says on the band’s imminent horizon is releasing several of their “vignettes,” or recorded sketches by the end of summer 2020. He says the songs take on a more ambient quality, as the pair has been working outside their comfort zone musically.
“We’ve always been a pretty melodically driven band, easy to sing along with, because those are the songs I tend to identify with the most as a singer,” Nate says. “So I think we’ll always maintain that melodic sense, but definitely structurally getting into some different stuff. That’s definitely what we’re looking forward to.”
Adam, a bit more soft-spoken than the See Creatures frontman, may venture out from behind his drum kit and lend vocals to new songs. He is also experimenting with keys and would like to create a larger sound out of the pair’s live performances.
“We’re doing a lot of stuff with synthesizers, so that’s kind of different,” Adam says. “We’re kind of trying to change up the [live] set feel a little bit, maybe make it feel a little more versatile, get more sounds going and fill it in a little more.”
Now that See Creatures is back in Akron working on new material, they anticipate playing out and venturing outside the county line to impose their sense of “aqua doom” upon listeners new and old.