The Sun Rose in a Different Place

by Echodrone (2010, Self-Released)

Echodrone has certainly come some distance since their 2007 self-titled EP. While “shoegazer” is probably still the best genre in which to place them, their debut full-length The Sun Rose in a Different Place reveals that that’s not the most accurate classification to make. True, the layers of shimmering guitars and sighing vocals are still there, but the band is clearly in the process of honing and refining such elements—which is both exciting and somewhat frustrating.

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In Sea Remixes

by Various Artists (2010, Silber Records)

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a big fan of remixes. I understand the need and desire to pay some homage to music that you find inspiring and beautiful. And given our society’s predilection for recontextualizing and reiterating pop culture in general, remixing sort of seems to be the post-modern de rigueur thing to do. But maybe I subscribe too heavily to the auteur idea for artists in general, that the vision put forth by the original artist is the authoritative one—that it’s canon, if you will—and that other versions are, therefore, pretenders to the throne.

That’s one huge generalization, of course, and I don’t mean to whitewash all remixes in existence, nor do I intend to dismiss those with mad remixing skills. But again, generally speaking, if I have to choose between picking up an album of remixes, and getting an album of brand new material—either by the remixer(s) or the remixee(s)—new material will win out almost every time. I yearn for something new, something fresh, something original—and remixes just never quite leave me satisfied beyond the initial piquing of curiosity.

Which brings us to In Sea Remixes, a collection of remixes of Aarktica’s In Sea. And in addition to my normal dislike of remixes, I was especially anxious regarding this particular collection, for two reasons.

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Drowned In Light

by Manual (2010, Darla Records)

When I last reviewed Manual (aka, Jonas Munk), it was for 2007’s Lost Days, Open Skies And Streaming Tides, a two-disc collection of b-sides, compilation tracks, remixes, and other odds and ends. And by the time I was finished with that release, I concluded, or at least hoped, that it was a harbinger of sorts, that it represented a desire by Munk to clear out any musical baggage and start exploring some new sonic territory.

As much as I like Munk’s music in spirit and theory, the truth is that a little bit of Manual goes a long way for me. I love his ethereal guitars and instrumental soundscapes, but they’re so smooth and crisp, so polished and well-produced, that they’ve always blended together in the long run. As such, I found myself eagerly anticipating something truly new from the guy.

2008 brought us Confluence, another one of Manual’s more ambient-minded releases—and his weakest of that sort (I’ve always preferred 2004’s The North Shore for my Manual bliss-out moments). But now it’s 2010 and Drowned In Light is here, and it represents the first real evidence that Munk is venturing towards a new place, musically. Which makes the album fascinating but also frustrating, because he’s not there yet.

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Slow Motion Breath Forward

by Talik (2010, Self-Released)

Cory Zaradur, who is one half of Language of Landscape—I reviewed their Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow earlier in the month—recently let me know about Talik, his collaboration with Musk’oakA. You could lump Talik in with Language of Landscape, since they’re both “ambient” projects, but that’d be really quite lazy of you. Sure, Slow Motion Breath Forward has plenty of ethereal guitars and drifting textures throughout its five songs, but even a cursory listen will reveal that Talik quickly goes in a very different direction.

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Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow

by Language of Landscape (2010, Phantom Channel)

It’s the middle of March, and we’re finally experiencing a gorgeous spring day here in Lincoln. The skies are blue and full of sunshine, kids are in the park, and the temperature is in the mid-60s. In other words, about as perfect a day as you can imagine, and you’d think I’d be enjoying some appropriately shiny, jangly music full of cheery hooks and effervescent melodies. But if you’ve any knowledge of the music that Opus has tended to focus on over the last few years, then it shouldn’t really surprise you that I’m listening to an album entitled Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow, and yes, it sounds like you think it would based on the title alone.

Working under the Language of Landscape moniker, Chris Tenz and Cory Zaradur bring together the austere ambience of Stars of the Lid with the similar austerity that can be heard in Arvo Pärt and Max Richter’s most sublime compositions. The result is music that slowly envelopes the listener with gentle guitar drones and sparse-yet-evocative piano arrangements, that slowly drifts down around you like, well, a shallow autumn snow.

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