Fenomenon
Pacific Memories: The Early Tapes


5.0
classic

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
June 18th, 2012 | 9 replies | 7,298 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ...

Fenomenon are a gem of a band hailing from Norway, who even though they have been active on the music scene for more than a decade now, are less known around the world. After two of their songs, "Pacific Memories" and "Picturebook", have been included on the soundtrack for the 2002 PC game, Beach Life, the band's label at that time, Nuphonic, went broke leaving them up in the air. A couple of years later the band was back on track signing with a Norwegian label, Beatservice, thus finally releasing their material to the world.

Pacific Memories: The Early Tapes is more of a compilation of their earlier downtempo and ambient output. It was reportedly conceived as a loose soundtrack to the movie Shawshank Redemption's last minutes (when Red is released from prison and finally decides to go to Zihuatanejo, Mexico to meet Andy on the Pacific shore), hence the album title being an allusion to one line in the script that goes: "they say that the Pacific Ocean has no memories".

Musically, Pacific Memories: The Early Tapes is filled with many lovely, bland instrumentals, only some of them being accompanied by vocals. The album has a lot of diversity to offer, from the lounge ambient feel of "Clayton Ravine", "By Pearls And Gold" "Picturebook" and the title track, the nu jazz tinged "Awake" & "Solara", the broken beat that is "Even Stranger", to the latinesque "Romeo Avenue". There are many highlights here, but the album is meant to be listened to as a whole since it offers 65 minutes of pure bliss. From the beginning, the album tangles the listener in its web with the title track, that starts slowly with the sound of the ocean giving way to soothing acoustic guitar licks, warm synths and piano lines. The band always adds new layers or slight changes in the direction of the songs not letting them drone, thus making the album even better.

Centerpiece, "By Pearls And Gold" is undoubtedly the album's biggest highlight as well as the band's best song so far. Everything is gorgeously arranged: from the sparse, high pitched piano, to the bowed strings and the background acoustic guitar giving "By Pears And Gold" a whole new dimension. Still, the vocals are magnificent, as singer Kjetil Ingebretsen, with the help of his restrained voice, gives a nostalgic yet dreamy feel. The beauty of this song lies in its simplicity really.

Another great song is "Even Stranger" which uplifts Pacific Memories' general vibe and is also somewhat different from the rest of the track list, bearing more resemblance to the broken beat subgenre. This represents the band's direction at the time, since this album is made up mostly of older tracks. Following "Even Stranger" is "Awake", a wonderful jazzy slow burner. The deep bass creates a dense atmosphere while Kjetil gently croons over. The extended coda featuring light piano touches and soft trumpet leads give the song an eerie feel before switching to "Clayton Ravine", an even more seductive, almost lounge instrumental. Sunny acoustic guitars dominate this track showcasing the summer ambiance of the whole album at its best here. This adventure comes to an end with the aptly titled "Back At Dawn" which acts more like an ambient lullaby slowly switching everything to a sleepy mood and gradually stripping the musical layers down to some fading acoustic guitar chords. The song is a good closer to a stellar album.

These tracks make up only half of the album, the rest of them being no less interesting. It is a shame how this album is relatively unknown around the world. Fans of ambient and downtempo must give Pacific Memories: The Early Tapes a listen immediately as this album is really, really rewarding.



Recent reviews by this author
Kaiser Chiefs Education, Education, Education & WarMotorpsycho Behind the Sun
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic The Ultra Electric Mega GalacticKamchatka The Search Goes On
Buckethead Monument ValleyTruckfighters Universe
user ratings (2)
Chart.
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012



3159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This might be my most subjective review but I love this album.
Pacific Memories - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSOmvgD00H8
By Pearls And Gold - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfpIl3dwDDo
Out Of Control - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt37mJlDtt4&feature=related
Clayton Ravine - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPl07SoPKEo


Digging: Amplifier - Echo Street

Gyromania
June 18th 2012



14647 Comments


Really great stuff, Raul. I'll check out your recommended tracks.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012



4337 Comments


Yeah, good review Insomniac. I'll give these guys a listen.
POS'd

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012



3159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks guys! I can't say how this much I love this album for years now.

CaptainDooRight
June 18th 2012



26409 Comments


Like what I'm hearing so far. Will continue to check out rest of album. POS good review brother.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

CaptainDooRight
June 18th 2012



26409 Comments


Listened to all the songs that you linked and I can say they're all enjoyable for what they are but this wouldn't last in replay value needs.

Gyromania
June 18th 2012



14647 Comments


Music for the soul.

ZedO
June 18th 2012



1096 Comments


based on the link you posted, yep these guys are talented! just need to check out their entire song of the album...

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2012



3159 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Gyro - if you like it you should check their other albums too. Hourglass is broken beat and ambient and also contains "Lucy Said", "Time" and "Trouble Takes Flight" which are some of their best known songs (they also have videos). In Stereo is more upbeat than Pacific, with jazzy tracks and dancier ones. Their self-titled has a more depressive nature, but is great.

@Captain - I usually listen to this when my ears are tired of harder music, maybe that's why I enjoy it that much. Still, happy to hear you like it.

@ZedO - it works best as a whole IMO. Maybe you'll like more other albums from their catalog.




You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy