erasing clouds

Manual, Bajamar

reviewed by dave heaton

Bajamar's first track, the title track, is static but gently rising; it's like the sun's opening out of the clouds, or Jonas Munk, aka Manual, is peeking out between musical notes to give listeners a sense of what's in store.

Bajamar's sun-drenched album cover is similar in look to that of Manual's other releases, including last year's fantastic Azure Vista, a breathtaking aural portrait of a sunny landscape. Bajamar is similar in tone too it's again an ambient, instrumental work that feels like you're lying back upon a relaxing musical bed. Yet it's as a whole an even more patient work, unfolding slowly, using stillness and silence often.

After the introductory title track, "Celebration" is unveiled, a multi-layered work of tones and textures. At first it seems ominous, with a sense of absence, but it progressively gets richer and deeper, in the process bringing out the titular feeling of celebration like some other being is reaching into you in search of your inner peace.

The starker "Reminiscence" too has a meditative quality, as does the album's longest track, "September Swell." That song is especially driven by absence at first there's a stillness and an intoxicating blankness about it. As the minutes pass it glimmers ever more, slowly evoking so much at once.

With its final track "La Torche" the album takes an upturn that at the moment seems almost surprising, how joyous it feels. Bajamar is soothing music, sure, but it also contains questions, dimensions, and mysteries. Bajamar goes deeper than just being pretty, than just emulating the beauty of the natural world though it certainly does that. In fact, Manual does that so well that my descriptions of his music often seem silly to me, in much the same way that writing a description of a majestic, expansive natural landscape can seem fruitless.


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