These lyrics exemplify the new Dive Index album, The Surface We Divide: a series of charged conversations, conducted at arm’s length. Spearheaded by co-writer/producer Will Thomas, the new songs feature vocal contributions from such musical stalwarts as Joseph Arthur, Cat Martino, and former Ride vocalist Mark Gardener, as well as up-and-coming London-based artist Patrick Cooper. This vocal mixture lends a wide stylistic range to the album, from textured baritones to floating falsettos. Cat Martino even teams up with both Joseph and Mark for two modern takes on the duet.
Dive Index uses a nontraditional collaborative process. For Surface, musical ideas were initially conceived by Will in New York and then sent out to the different vocalists. Communication was mostly done via email and exchanged files. The varied recording environments were in some cases as lo-fi as the changing room in an East London shop.
The songs on Surface truly straddle genre lines: live drums morphed with electro percussive blips; looping acoustic and electric guitars; soaring spacey synths complementing twisted cellos. Sometimes starting with a soft, repetitive framework, the linear arrangements build into unexpected multi-layered energy. The vocals add a top line that creates a song-based anchor while Will’s music and production weaves a continuous thread to hold the album together. Recurring instrumental appearances include cello by Julia Kent (Antony & the Johnsons) and drums by Kevin O’Donnell (Andrew Bird).
Surface is the follow up the last Dive Index album Mid/Air that featured Natalie Walker, Merz, Ian Masters, and Cat Martino. It was fully embraced by KCRW’s Jason Bentley, who contributed to the remix album Collisions along with The Album Leaf, Tunng, and Roger Eno.