Manual : Azure Vista
Danish producer Jonas Munk has a prolific (and quite collaborative) discography of ambient, instrumental dream-pop as Manual. He’s also a member of Odense collective Limp. Yet, knowing all this, I have to admit this was the first material I’ve heard from him. Azure Vista is his third full-length solo effort, following 2002’s Ascend, and its accompanying press release suggests a move to a bigger, more universal sound. It’s thus unsurprising when Azure Vista‘s opener, “Clear skies Above the Coastline Cathedral” echoes the sweeping instrumental moments of The Cure’s Disintegration, counterbalanced by a breezy hopefulness somewhat akin to Simple Minds.
“Summer of Freedom” makes like a duel between the Cocteau Twins and the Departure Lounge. It builds up to a grinding post-rock climax, yet somehow still feels breezy. “Twilight” marks a stylistic change, shimmering pristinely with shades of Brian Eno and the glitch-pop of Clue to Kalo. “Tourmaline” continues in a similar vein, perhaps with a touch of M83 at a snail’s pace. “Neon Reverie” recalls New Order’s “Ceremony” and Explosions in the Sky’s anthemic instrumentals, peaking cathartically. An eponymous composition closes the album somewhere between dreamy electronica a la Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada style IDM.
This review looks quite abrupt from where I’m typing. When a record defies meaningful extended analysis beyond the descriptive, with production this superbly inclusive, one can only point out so much. For example, Maja Maria’s backing vocals are credited, but I’d struggle to separate them from the collage of lovely noises throughout. I could write a mini-essay about emotions evoked, but it wouldn’t add much of value. Azure Vista is a collection of beautiful music in the best possible taste. I’d advise listening to it as the sun disappears.
The Departure Lounge – Too Late to Die Young
Boards of Canada – Geogaddi
M83 – Before the Dawn Heals Us