Review Summary: Ethereal ambiance for ethereal worlds.
It's raining very slowly and the world seems to be black, gray and white. Sometimes a soft tone of blue in small stains are injected, blurring the vision. It comes with a slow and whispered voice over an infinity of sound immersed in a simple and unquestionable sequence of cold notes. It's like an old factory filmed in slow-motion, the simple and wild marks of a serious face or simply sonic exuberance wiped of all its edges.
Birds of Passage is a project by Alicia Merz, coming from Neo Zealand and which brings a very minimalist mixture of folk, ambient and post rock in a very subtle and intimate way. It can be very cold and dark at times, as the track 'those blackest winter nights' and suddenly build a folk guitar song as if it was written for angels to sing, as the third track of this album: 'Fantastic Frown'.
Alicia's voice is for sure the highlight of 'Without The World', she delivers a lot of emotion while sounding cold and sad. There are echoes, fragile soundscapes and subtle noises working to draw an ethereal and complex background to her voice, which also sound strong and whispered at the same time. On a track like “My Own Mind”, Alice shows how she can write an emotional song with just a fragile and bright sequence of single notes, with her whispering singing over it.
The soft and the raw are both mixed and wiped of any exaggeration, the track 'Skeletons' is made of a distorted guitar sound in contrast to a soft and beautiful vocal melody. There is a movement of mixing the opposites all the time here, harsh and easy, black and white, sad and happy are converted to melancholic, strong and gray songs which build an entire ambient over your ears.
While Alicia's vocal does not have a wide range of diversity, it works very well in the purpose on Birds of Passage, it has to keep calm and without taking too much attention, since the instrumental behind her voice is almost translucent and seems to be losing its forms in the wind and ocean sounds that are present there and there on the album.
'Without The World” is the kind of record that is hard to remember which track is which without paying a lot of attention. It floats so well and dense that you almost forgot that there is a song being played, beautiful melodies filling strange and sometimes comfortable sights of desolate paintings, cold rusty over warm feelings. It floats without the world, like said in its title: it is absence of matter, just shadows of appearances, bodies without contours and a soft light over a dark cosmos of infinity and simplistic environments, and I certainly recommend it to you.