Boomkat Product Review:
Marsen Jules returns with an astonishing suite that combines a stirring orchestral grandeur with chilly, cinematic ambience. An obvious reference point is the stately creations of Wolfgang Voigt's GAS, but Jules' compositions have a crystal-clear quality that Voigt's tracks lack, and are also completely beatless - they feel more exposed, more vulnerable. His sixth full-length to date, following releases on Autoplate, City Centre Offices and Genesungswerk, and appearances on no less than four Kompakt Pop Ambient compilations, Nostalgia is billed as a continuation of his 2005 classic Herbstlaub, and as a meditation on "desire, rebellion and immortality", and sure enough it's a similarly oriented work of sober minimalism that privileges unflinching emotional enquiry over touchy-feely reassurance, splendidly evoking both the pleasure and the pain of dwelling on the past. The first half of the album is beautiful but a little bit harrowing, like having a bird's eye view down on yourself as you trudge hopelessly across the loneliest Arctic tundra, but the later tracks let some light in: 'Sweet Sweet Longing' stretches out low piano notes and bowed cello into widescreen drones, and 'Kundera's Dream - a reference to the august Czech writer? - flecks finger-picked guitar notes over the most sweepingly romantic string overture imaginable. Jules is that rare thing, an ambient composer whose command of atmosphere is equalled by a strong sense of narrative and melodic progression. Fans of Biosphere, William Basinski, Klimek, GAS, Lawrence English, Thomas Koner and other isolationist maestros will instantly grasp how special this record is.