Boomkat Product Review:
Billow Observatory – the trans-atlantic duo consisting of Detroit's Jason Kolb (Auburn Lull) and Danish producer Jonas Munk (Manual) – are back with a follow-up to the their debut album from 2012.
”II: Plains/Patterns” departs from the first LP’s amorphous ambient haze with a more rigid, albeit subtle, underpinning of rhythm and pulse. The duo’s obsession with “place and space” comes clearly into focus with an album that draws deeply from Munk and Kolb’s individual proximity to the geographically distant, but oddly similar, sounds of Germany and Michigan, past and present.
Traces of shoegaze, modern minimal electronica, and kosmische appear on every track, but are mutated into something mysterious and new. ”Pulsus”, for example, opens the album with a driving teutonic stutter and washes of serene guitar loops that are punctuated by bursts of filtered synth patterns; a combination that seamlessly bridges the gaps between disparate genres and periods of time. Centerpiece, ”Plains”, expands the ambient formula into a inspired epic in three parts, where swells of processed guitars, distant voices and faint echoes of Detroit techno are weaved together to form a kaleidoscopic whole.
Tracks such as ”Vex” and ”Plum” seem to pay as much homage to Slowdive and Eno's Harold Budd collaborations as to the modern minimalism from Cologne or Berlin. For ambient aficionados, "II: Plains/Patterns" is a gorgeous sounding full-length not to be missed. Out March 31 on milky transparent vinyl (limited to 300 copies!), CD and Download on Azure Vista Records."
Recommended if you like: Brian Eno, Cluster, Slowdive, Pole, Stars Of The Lid, Kompakt Records