Manual - Confluence
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Confluence couldn't have arrived at a better time to my geographical location. After an extremely-extended summer that found me running around in shorts and playing tennis into early November, a dramatic weather about-face finally arrived and left no doubt what time of year it really was. It's the sort of weather when a stiff, freezing wind will either leave you feeling wilted and wanting for a pile of warm blankets and bed, or slightly emboldened and ready to put up more of a fight as the daylight hours dwindle away even further.

And so the new album by long-running Danish musician Jonas Munk (aka Manual) feels right at home. The third installment in his series of ambient albums (following up on The North Shore and Bajamar), it's a much darker effort, with huge cloud banks of heavily processed guitar mingling with occasional piano refrains. In fact, one can definitely hear the Eno/Budd influence at work on pieces like the thirteen-minute "Confluence," which puffs out deep breaths of overlapping drones as spare ivory notes linger in the background and finally step out into the daylight as the fog recedes. In other places (like the opener "Blue Stone"), the tone is colder, with nothing but sparse, groaning chord washes that manage to create a nice sense of space.

Overall, it's a much more solid effort from Munk, who has tended to dabble into pretty lightweight territory in the past. It still happens here in places (as with the wavering soft synths in the background of "Sanctuary"), but the release definitely tends to err on the side of deeper and darker, and the result is an eight track, hourlong journey that provides some nice ambient backdrop without getting either too new age or doom-laden. As such, it will make a decent soundtrack whether you decide to go ahead and jump back in bed on a cold day or grit your teeth and continue the walk forward.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2008-11-13 21:24:34