Balam Acab
Wander/Wonder


3.5
great

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
August 28th, 2011 | 83 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: hush little baby, don't say a word

Listening to Wander/Wonder is an experience akin to having awkward but passionate teenage sex while your parents are watching TV in another part of the house. It’s hushed, muffled by the sound of the movie the two of you just picked for the noise, yet intense, romantic even. This is no fuck; you’re in love here, you believe. It’s understood that the moment’s fleeting, but this understanding is irrelevant. For this half hour, you have bliss. Wait till tomorrow for your pissy little brain to start questioning if any of it was actually real.

Alec Koone’s music under the Balam Acab moniker is pretty, which could be the slipperiest compliment I can lob it. Its sweetly spacious, electronic (witch-folk, apparently, how fun!), and also lightly organic, with its vocals alternatively morphing between a chipmunk squeak and a distantly booming baritone. This thing sits adorably yet totally unassumingly. No emotion to it beyond a dreamy bliss. Koone is all naiveté through electronic whispers, recalling the droning Disney ecstasy of Youtube demigod Pogo and broader pop-culture artists Star Slinger and Teen Daze. Wander/Wonder proves that Balam Acab has the chops, so lacking in his contemporaries, to create a cohesive, consistent album, but its ambiguous, being sonically there but too emotionally insulated to leave a lasting impression.

The neat trick to Wander/Wonder is that by being vague emotionally, it invites an objective appreciation for what’s beautiful, hence all that water merrily swashing away in the background. Hell yes it’s a gamble; Wander/Wonder is very meditative and fit for a very meditative mood, but without the desire to hunker down and take it all in, it lacks the pacing to bridge the gap between its giants, “Welcome” and “Oh, Why.” The moan in “Welcome” starts Wander/Wonder off at pitch black, beautiful but unsettlingly mesmerizing, yet what follows becomes increasingly bright and consequently slight, frustrating the album's atmosphere. It’s not until the character-drenched “Oh, Why” does the album deliver the emotional opposition to justify its often peculiar shift in tone.

Which is a shame; Koone has some dense shit on here. “Oh, Why” exemplifies what he does well in a killer track that knifes through the vale shrouding this album’s face. Its bobbing bass underscores a warped whisper: ”miss you; where are you hiding?” The sentiment is enough to ground the song in something tangible. Tracks like this offer Koone voice that projects his own as an artist, a crucial element to making his Balam Acab project so intriguing. He has some compelling sketches, and when they're fleshed out, they're amazing. He just relies on the major chords and reverb to speak for him, and these are indeed beautiful components, but on their own they don’t get to the heart as powerfully as when Koone isolates a lyric or emotional tone powerful enough to build around.

When listened to in full, Wander/Wonder’s a consistent, dreamy experience. Pleasant, often phenomenal. And then afterwards, most of it is gone minus those times when it got real. So what to do? Take it in at once. Enjoy what it can do; Revel in what it does. It doesn’t have to be love yet, but the potential’s there. Keep the good memories of what was often a good thing.

Also, you’re going to want to piss afterwards.



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user ratings (112)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2011


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Opening paragraph is perfect.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


20857 Comments


Why do I have a certain scene out of 'Me, Myself & Irene' in my head now?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


7311 Comments


Listening to Wander/Wonder is an experience akin to having awkward but passionate teenage sex while your parents are watching TV in another part of the house. It’s hushed, muffled by the sound of the movie the two of you just picked for the noise, yet intense, romantic even. This is no fuck; you’re in love here, you believe. It’s understood that the moment’s fleeting, but this understanding is irrelevant. For this half hour, you have bliss. Wait till tomorrow for your pissy little brain to start questioning if any of it was actually real.

And this is why Adam Downer has the privilege of being my favourite Staff writer. (He has no sense of moral values.)

Haha!

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


31362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What the fuck are you even talking about here?

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


17920 Comments


this is horrible come on downer

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
August 28th 2011


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I was with you for the first two paragraphs, then I feel like you lost the path a little bit.

Also: "But the neat trick to Wander/Wonder is that it by being vague emotionally, it invites an objective appreciation for what’s beautiful, hence all that water merrily swashing away in the background."

erm.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


31362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Reading this review is akin to hearing downer attempt to have awkward yet emotional sex

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


16137 Comments


Band would be cooler if they were called Balamb Garden.

foxblood
August 28th 2011


6797 Comments


you two are just saying that because you haven't experienced the first paragraph lol

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
August 28th 2011


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lol

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


17920 Comments


yeah because they have sex in their own house not their parents'

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


31362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's also not awkward

aok
August 28th 2011


4440 Comments


^suckup...





nah, but i'm actually intrigued to hear the album to know how the hell downer managed to hear all of
that

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 28th 2011


31362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am genuinely in awe at how someone could listen to this and conjure up such a specific visual metaphor as that

thunder15
August 28th 2011


619 Comments


I laughed at the "also you're going to want to piss afterwards" part

Rev
August 28th 2011


9437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

omg this review


and awesome, this is finally out

mvood
August 28th 2011


818 Comments


nicee review

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 28th 2011


6487 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

omg this review [2]

Need to listen to this

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

conradtao
Emeritus
August 28th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

adam were you drunk while writing this because it doesn't make sense

"Hell yes it’s a gamble; Wander/Wonder is very meditative and fit for a very meditative mood. Otherwise it lacks the pacing to bridge the gap between its giants, “Welcome” and “Oh, Why.” The moan in “Welcome” is a haunting beckoning, beautiful but unsettlingly mesmerizing, yet what follows becomes increasingly bright and consequently slight. The album opens at pitch black and goes on to frustrate its own atmosphere. It’s not until the character-drenched “Oh, Why” does the album deliver the emotional opposition to justify its often peculiar shift in tone."

this paragraph is a mess.. seems like you had a few points that you wanted to articulate in your review and you just strung them together haphazardly

Drsmith4
August 28th 2011


1715 Comments


One of the messiest staff reviews like ever, but that first paragraph was awesome



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