Swim Camp is the recording project of Philadelphia-based songwriter Tom Morris, and has grown to feature Taylor Cullen (formerly of Howlish), Mark Watter (also formerly of Howlish), and Brian Sanderson in its live show line-up. Released in 2017, the band’s debut album SCUBA set out their distinctively energetic and inventive style, marriying bedroom pop tenderness with more noisier, more urgent sounds in an organic style born of improvisation. Several singles followed, ‘Cool’ pushing through ambient into near post-rock territory while ‘Circle K’ stripped things back into an incisive intimacy, Morris further developing the emotional resonance of his writing and making it the foundation of the Swim Camp sound.
This year sees the release of Barlow Hill, a second full-length Swim Camp album via Z Tapes, and this sense of emotion is now the cornerstone of the record. The album was engineered and produced by Watter, at the Headroom Studios in Philly, and Morris cites his influence as vital to the final atmosphere of the album. “[Watter was] the key that allowed me to enter into this sort of emotionally muddy world,” he explains, “while maintaining a structural narrative that made sense in a larger context.”
We’re delighted to be able to share the first single, ‘Pretty Bird’. With violin from Molly Germer (who played on Alex G’s most recent record), the song’s mood is striking, executing a deft balance between lonely melancholy and a kind of quiet triumph. “The song is kind of about moving on from being in love with something or someone in a relatively unhealthy way,” Morris explains. “In the narrative of the song it’s all about having the correct perspective on the things in your life and how cathartic it can be to work through this stuff.”
The track comes complete with a video from the ever-impressive Bob Sweeney, where the themes of perspective and moving on are explored further. Rendered in a lovely lo-fi tone, the film sees Morris carry a mysterious box through the woods and eventually bury it in a ritual of letting go. That the box’s contents remain cryptic lends the whole thing further metaphorical weight, standing in for whatever load a person might need to shed in order to find something like peace.
Barlow Hill will be released by Z Tapes and you can pre-order it from the Swim Camp Bandcamp page.