Extinct Peripheries’ Debut
Sea Beau’s New Electro-Acoustic Album Is Rad
Walking up St. Urbain St. on a rainy Saturday evening, the energy overflowed from Geist House, spilling out the windows and into the night’s air.
Someone has placed a chalkboard sign just outside the door, inviting bodies inside of the show house’s warm embrace.
The evening of music and art was in celebration of Sea Beau’s newly released album Extinct Peripheries, an electro-acoustic project that combines a range of vocals with experimental synth beats.
Complemented by contributions from a handful of artists, Geist House was decorated with installations ranging from sculptural creations to an interactive sound room.
Sea Beau came into being just a little over two years ago, according to Cass Beauvais, the artist and Concordia student behind the project. “Stemming out of a place trauma and healing, there was a struggle to express myself as Cass,” Beauvais said.
At the time, the artist was studying piano and voice improvisation, and came to a point where they couldn’t bring themselves to sing or make any sounds at all.
The following summer, two friends thought to put Ableton, a music production software, on Beauvais’ laptop. “I started working on Ableton as a substitute for not being able to sing,” they said. “I know how malleable sound can be and that it can be sculpted in any way you want, so I started to record things and pull samples.”
Extinct Peripheries is mostly made up of field recordings—“urban timbres,” as Beauvais says. Sounds of construction, metallic clinking, trains, and engines are layered until they eventually take on the role of bass synths or kick drums.
A number of people were packed into a low-ceiling basement, surely becoming a fire hazard. No one seemed to care though, as the bodies of friends, and the friends of friends, gathered in the low-lit space to share in an intimate moment of performance and music with Sea Beau.
While there’s no doubt that the artist’s vibe is completely original, the sprinklings of influence from other experimental artists like Bjork or Grimes are certainly present. The artist explained that they’ve been inspired by the works of Diamanda Galas and Meredith Monk—experimental vocalists who pushed boundaries in their own time.
These performers, bridging the gap between sound and performance, catalyzed Beauvais’ return to music. Beauvais began to make sounds that weren’t traditional to concert or jazz music.
Between words, Beauvais demonstrates what kind of sound they’re talking about. “I really like high-register sounds,” they said, as a high-pitched whistle—almost like a squeak—escaped. Later, they would jokingly compare it to a pterodactyl scream. “You really feel the sound coming through your face.”
“You really feel the sound coming through your face.— Cass Beauvais, Sea Beau
Most of Beauvais’ work is improvisational.
“I’ve always been completely comfortable while doing improv with Sea Beau, which always surprises me considering it’s unplanned and purely experimental,” said Ola Kado, a violinist who collaborates with Beauvais.
Upstairs of Geist House, a different kind of experience was taking place. “The Garden is in my imagination,” explained Aya Avalon, its creator. “It’s supposed to be therapeutic—a coping mechanism for life.”
The Garden, which is actually more like a room with string lights, paper vines and plastic flowers sprinkling the sheet-covered floor, acted as a safe space for visitors of Geist House. Upon entering, greeting you was a wave of relaxing energy, an invitation to explore the undiscovered grounds of the synthetic outdoors.
“Do you want to try it?” Avalon asked, motioning towards the Edirol and headphones lying on the floor, patiently waiting to be picked up by the next unknowing participant.
The Garden was an immersive sound and word experience. What could be called “jungle sounds”—thunder, rain, birds chirping—wrapped the listener into a blanket of audio vibrations, paired with the robotic voice of a woman talking about the strife of life and how this imagined place called The Garden could be their new escape.
The calming energy of The Garden amplified the overall sentiment of the night, highlighting Sea Beau’s intentional themes of self-love, moving on and letting go.
“I used to disassociate from Sea Beau. I still frequently talk about Sea Beau in the third person. When it started, Cass couldn’t make stuff, but Sea Beau could,” they explained.
“But now I’m really happy and doing super well. I love Sea Beau, and Sea Beau is me,” Beauvais explained. “That’s what this album and the release show was indicative of.”