Exit North
Book of Romance and Dust


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
December 13th, 2018 | 40 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beauty awakens from deep within the Earth.

Book of Romance and Dust is a very earthly record. What I mean by that is everything feels organic; the baritone vocals echo as if sung between the Alps’ snow-capped mountains, the pianos have an oceanic glisten, and the drums pound like boots landing upon the barren grounds of a desert. It’s an album that instills such imagery and injects it with emotion, as strings flourish and trumpets add a majestic flair. This Thomas Feiner/Ulf Jansson/Steve Jansen/David Sylvian collaboration sweeps the imagination and rattles the bone, a primitive and dazzling debut for Exit North.

The vast majority of Book of Romance and Dust is graceful and effervescent, slowly gliding towards moments of elevated grandeur. There are mini-crescendos such as when ‘Bested Bones’ cautiously rises to a gorgeous entanglement of piano and violin, but the songs also balance each other out on a macro scale. The plodding pace of the first three tracks, for instance, sets up the comparatively bustling energy exuded by ‘Passenger’s Wake’ – from the album’s first truly memorable chorus to the buzzing electric guitar riff sounding off from somewhere in the distance. There’s an ebb and flow to the whole experience that contains little melodic swells, as well as rare but larger payoffs that feel earned once the destination is reached.

The mood in this realm, crafted to meticulous detail by Feiner & co., is icily reflective yet engaging. The lyrics avoid tangible narratives, instead opting for wistful pleas (“give me another chance to listen, to hear the world…the void, the sound it makes”) and self-doubt (“here’s a man searching for context for his lost geometries, always short of one dimension”). There are occasional forays into what could be considered a silver lining, such as when Feiner sings, “I’ll wait for my sunrise…I’ll break the doors open, take what I came for and then go.” Even then, however, the melody is tinged with remorse as Feiner wails atop defeated violins until he sounds lost in hesitation and uncertainty. Book of Romance and Dust represents quite the forlorn journey – it’s a meandering tale of regret, the ruminations of a man who’s let too much of his life pass him by.

Yet, the music stands in beautiful contrast to Feiner’s weathered-sounding vocals. The combination of pianos, synthesizers, trumpets, and strings creates a wholly dynamic approach that alternates between beautiful wintry ambience and proximal, comforting warmth. It flows with elegance, occasionally aspiring to inimitable levels of raw beauty. The musical progression of Book of Romance and Dust is analogous to waiting through a dense, foggy morning until the sun finally breaks through, casting its light upon the frost-bitten landscape. It's downright breathtaking.

Exit North captures an illustrious blend of natural elements and human emotion in this recording. It’s all at once powerful and refined, using bare-bones instruments to achieve a poignant and cerebral atmosphere. It’s the kind of album that could soundtrack any lonely, cold winter night. Book of Romance and Dust is a piece that dwells almost uniformly in hopelessness, but that also draws inspiration from the surrounding natural world to pull itself back into the light.




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user ratings (26)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
tomanic (5)
There is something exciting and new about the music on this record, something that goes far beyond t...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
December 13th 2018


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not even sure what I wanted to say about this, I just know that I wanted to say something. Stunning 2018 album that I sadly encountered a tad too late.

Digging: James Blake - Assume Form

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
December 13th 2018


4682 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yep, excellent stuff. Too bad it kind of went unnoticed everywhere

Digging: A Swarm of the Sun - The Woods

Papa Universe
December 13th 2018


19199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

in typical Sowing fashion, he takes already reviewed albums and steals the spotlight.



at least people will listen now.

Digging: Two People - First Body

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 13th 2018


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^That was the whole idea. Maybe a staff review will add some listeners.

ButtBoy
December 13th 2018


1576 Comments


why is this not on spotify.
why are they trying to make my life inconvenient. bandcamp?
sounds cool, eager to listen

Papa Universe
December 13th 2018


19199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's only partially on Bandcamp

ButtBoy
December 13th 2018


1576 Comments


what do you mean partially? Where's the whole thing?

Papa Universe
December 13th 2018


19199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pay-to-listen



but it's worth it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
December 13th 2018


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

only certain songs can be streamed on bandcamp

I was able to find a lot of the others on youtube though

Papa Universe
December 13th 2018


19199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pirate!

luci
December 13th 2018


10559 Comments


pretty sure it’s on slsk

DoofDoof
December 13th 2018


1707 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I so damn nearly influenced a Sowing 5 - a life ambition still unfulfilled



Lovely review though

Digging: Bobbie Gentry - The Delta Sweete

DoofDoof
December 13th 2018


1707 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also: Sowing, you’re going to love the song ‘Dinah and the Beautiful Blue’ when you get to it, an absolute beauty that one

DoofDoof
December 13th 2018


1707 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

That’s my only tiny criticism with this album - no standout standalone ‘top 100 songs of all time’ candidate



Other than that it’s near perfect overall

theBoneyKing
December 13th 2018


15906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wish I got this one a bit more. Still very good though.

“Dinah” is indeed a true beaut (but then again I’d put every song on The Opiates above every song on this).

Digging: Modest Mouse - This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About

DoofDoof
December 13th 2018


1707 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'd put a few of the songs on Opiates above any song on this

BeyondCosby
December 13th 2018


2349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

From everything I heard, this is super sweet.

MarsKid
December 13th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listening to The Opiates and it dwarfs this by a pretty significant margin.

Dewinged
December 13th 2018


13748 Comments


Going through the tracks in bandcamp now, I am gonna probably cave in and buy the thing. This is incredible.

Digging: Two People - First Body

DoofDoof
December 14th 2018


1707 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Tom releases albums at a rate of one every ten or so years - he needs all your moneys fam :D



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