May 01, 2006

Manual "Bajamar"

If last year's Azure Vista was an album of warm, shimmering songs that captured the beauty of a summer's evening on the beach, then Manual's follow-up Bajamar captures the sound of trying to stay warm on a cold, lonely, rainy winter's night. Unlike the previous album, the shimmering warmth has been placed by a cold, mechanical atmospheric drone that, while gorgeous, stands in stark contrast to the album before it. There are five songs on here, and the majority of these songs exceed the ten minute mark. The pace is glacial, and the songs drift along quite slowly, performed in a cold, almost metallic style that can seem quite bleak.

That's not to say that the album isn't beautiful; in fact, it's quite beautiful. The songs are haunting and funereal--especially the epic "September Swell"--and all of the songs flow together quite naturally, giving the feeling that you're listening to one long, five-part symphonic movement. Perhaps that's what composer Jonas Munk was trying to create, and in doing so, he's succeeded. That the songs were composed on processed guitars makes it even more fascinating. It's an experimental record that's easy on the ears, yet not devoid of complexities.

Of course, with music this languid, it's not a record that makes for everyday listening, and that's okay, because why should something this special be diluted by repeat listens? Bajamar is best saved for those special moments when you need a heavy dose of "chill out."

Listen To: "Bajamar"

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