Richard Swift’s passing in 2018 was a major loss to the music community at large. However, the world was fortunate enough to receive The Hex, Swift’s posthumous masterpiece (and my favorite record from last year). Earlier this year, we received another gift from Swift’s unreleased catalog, this time courtesy of Yuuki Matthews, multi-instrumentalist from The Shins—with whom Swift had also recorded and performed. This project—called Teardrops—is essential listening for fans of Swift, The Shins, and experimental electronic music alike.
In the description of the project, Matthews writes:
Sometime in April of 2013 in between runs on The Shins “Port of Morrow” tour Richard Swift and I decided we’d start a music project together and call it Teardrops after the song “Secret Teardrops” by Martin Rev who we were both huge fans of. We would get together over the course of the next couple years when we had down time — throwing ideas together urgently, if a bit haphazardly. There was an easy electricity between us when we worked. We had each others trust. Hours would pass with a single loop repeating over and over while palo santo sticks burned nearby. Sometimes we’d take breaks in the sunshine while our music played in the background. We’d smile at each other wondering what it was we were making–the answer never being that important. It just felt good and right. It was a vibe. We had aspirations of getting vocalists to sing on these tracks, or maybe it was a vocoder we’d use, or maybe… We just never got around to it.
Put simply, Teardrops sounds like no other record I’ve heard. It’s sample-based electronic music, but the samples are so deliciously textured and the production decisions so delightfully unorthodox that it transcends easy categorization. It’s meditative and spacious, yet also gritty and direct. It would be a crime for such a record to slip through the cracks, as it captures Swift’s relentlessly exploratory spirit in a previously unheard context. For fans of The Shins’ more recent electronic detours on their 2017 LP Heartworms, Teardrops is a fascinating look at this sound’s precursor.
Teardrops is reportedly set for an eventual wide digital release and limited physical release on cassette and vinyl. In the meantime, stream and purchase the record on Bandcamp.