Review Summary: Time to spend some time with yourself and just think.
The thing with most ambient is that you usually just use it for background noise or something to relax to. For the latter purpose, to fully enjoy it you have to be in a certain mood, which you’re hardly ever in (at least that’s the case for me). Now let’s get something out in the open here; I have a pretty short attention span. Because of this, although I appreciate it, ambient isn’t something I can fully enjoy most of the time and I almost never listen to the same ambient album more than once.
That’s pretty much the reason I think that this particular album is special, it's one of the only ambient albums I've listened to again and again. With an attention span like mine, things need to be captivating to really hold my appreciation and interest. This does that, in a way almost like no other. This isn’t background noise, it’s something that you can feel yourself in. Granted, the world that this album places you in is a fairly lonely one. The vocals on this record are some of the most melancholy I’ve ever heard their delivery is sad and longing.
The soundscape each song paints are incredibly large, but still feel contained within your own mind. The album gives you a lot to think about, particularly the intriguing spoken word lectures (if you will) such as the one in Oh, God regarding Atheism. The music can at times be breath-taking. My personal favourite song on this album is “A Sandstone Heart”. The clean, delayed guitars melt into each other. Drifting and wandering but never getting lost, always staying exactly where they’re needed. To be able to write like that is a gift indeed. Halfway through the song the guitars fade into the background to allow you to mull over the interesting speech going on. “Junction” is an interesting piece because of the way the acoustic guitar plays in a different beat to the droning sound in the background, giving the album a fascinating new twist.
Musically, the album has exceptional balance. The vocals aren’t all over it, drowning it, they only appear when they are called for. Dynamically, the songs are mostly about the same. This however doesn’t water it down or drag it along at a snail pace, it actually works incredibly well for it because it makes the occasional appearances of vocals and the spoken word passages feel incredibly refreshing. From start to finish the album is modest. Nothing about it is pretentious, it’s all just straight from a person’s head. Actually that’s a pretty good way of describing the way the album sounds and feels; if you were to look inside the artists head to hear the songs, this is exactly what they would sound like. At no point on the album does it sound like something that he didn’t want it to be, it’s exactly how it should sound.
The instrumental songs are very good, well layered and calm. The quiet nature of “Ghosts in America” really gives an eerie feel, completely surrounding and entrapping you while (what seems to be) the sound of a clock ticks away in the background. “Junction” is an interesting piece because of the way the acoustic guitar plays in a different beat to the droning sound in the background, giving the album a fascinating new twist.
Overall I found that this album was very well written and shows off some real potential. Its sound is genius in its own right and adds its own unique flavour to the tried and tested ambient genre. I highly recommend this to people looking for something a bit different and for fans of ambient I can guarantee that you won’t just listen to this once. Melancholia is something everyone can relate too in one way or another so why not experience it in an enjoyable form?