Earthen Sea

Brooklyn, USA

Tidal Range


Behind the Music

Whenever I write music, I always remain vaguely aware of some sort of image or environment that I then try to recreate with audio — molding the sounds to mimic sensations like standing on a beach, hearing and feeling the tide move the waves in and out. Having access to Ian’s extensive audio library only served to bolster this immersiveness. I often use field recordings of my own making in my compositions, but it was an interesting and creative challenge to puzzle together intriguing sounds I didn’t have an immediate context for.   

I often am able to express ideas and concepts more fluidly with music than with words. Without a direct tie to a language, you can evoke feelings that connect with someone even if they don’t know the details. In an abstract way, songs like those featured in The Outlaw Ocean Music Project can help tell a story by alluding to an environment or setting. They can evoke a mood or tone attributed to the oceans and the stories around this project.

Earthen Sea
About Earthen Sea

Earthen Sea is the experimental ambient/techno solo project of Jacob Long, best known to indie rock fans as a member of the Dischord-signed post-hardcore group, Black Eyes, and the dubby, drum-heavy post-punk band, Mi Ami. On his own, however, he crafts dark drone and glacial dub-techno. He began releasing Earthen Sea material during the early 2000s, while still a member of the Black Eyes. Released on limited-edition cassettes and CD-Rs, some of his earliest material utilized violin, tape decks and keyboards to create eerie soundscapes. After Black Eyes broke up in 2004, Long moved to San Francisco and started Mi Ami with former bandmate Daniel Martin-McCormick, releasing several albums and EPs. 

By the time Mi Ami released their 2012 album, “Decade,” their sound had become entirely electronic and house-influenced. Earthen Sea released the “Mirage” EP on Martin-McCormick's Lovers Rock imprint in 2014, but his style of techno was far more introspective and reserved rather than club-focused. Following a more abstract split LP with Insect Factory, Earthen Sea's full-length “Ink” appeared on Lovers Rock in 2015. A digital EP titled “The Sun Will Rise” was released by Nicolas Jaar's Other People in 2016. Following a move to Brooklyn, Long released “A Serious Thing” (a collection of odds and ends) and “An Act of Love,” his debut on Kranky, in 2017. Two years later, the same label released his third album, “Grass and Trees,” which presented a stripped-down, skeletonized version of dub techno.

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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