The music that Sage Fisher has released under the name Dolphin Midwives is constantly in a state of motion and metamorphosis. The gently plucked harp melody that opens “Castle Shell,” from her 2019 album Liminal Garden, quickly becomes warped out of proportion via effects pedals and digital processing. Even when she adds her delicately chiming vocals into the mix, they are often fractured or pushed just beyond the point of clarity. “It’s representative of how I think, and mirrors what happens to a brain during trauma,” Fisher said of her music around the time of Liminal Garden’s release. “You just kind of stop and things can go blank for a second…Things get pieced together and chopped up.”
Fisher’s latest Body of Water skirts the shoreline of future pop. It’s a bracing mood shift for an artist that previously fell softly in the ambient/experimental zone. On “Night Vision,” her mutating voice is backed up by a rattling, Timbaland-like rhythm, and a simple pulse propels “Clearing” forward like a steady wave. Throw a heavy breakbeat under the title track, and it could easily be mistaken for an FKA Twigs outtake.
The most startling moments on Body of Water arrive when Fisher’s siren song falsetto breaks the music’s surface tension and the details of her lyrics become clear. She returns frequently to the aquatic theme of the album, reminding herself that her body is made up mostly of water and singing of being washed clean. The trauma that shaded her past work seems to be melting away, helping lift her above sea level. On “Capricorn,” Fisher repeats the line, “When I get to the top of the mountain” over and over, layering it into a delirious chorus that sends her into the skies. Body of Water overflows with triumphal moments like it, as Fisher soars and splashes through this exciting stage in her artistic evolution.