Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder Balam Acab – Wander/Wonder

Balam Acab - Wander/Wonder

20-year-old Pennsylvanian Alec Koone impressed with last year’s See Birds EP, creating a debut release that was clear in its vision and established in its sound- music that could conveniently be placed in the emerging ‘witch-house’ genre that evoked simple, positive emotions- something which the dark and enigmatic scene has not become known for. I commented back then that such clarity was a welcome surprise from what was nothing more than a 19-year-old prospect, and indeed my admiration for the young producer has not diminished with the release of Wander/Wonder. Koone is no longer an ‘up-and-coming’- he is simply the real deal.

The most successful aspect of both See Birds EP and of Wander/Wonder is the lush mood and atmosphere that’s created on both-it’s very easy to get lost in both records. Artists given the ‘Witch House’ tag tend to weave their beats a bit faster and harsher than Mr. Koone does here, and their music tends to be a whole lot more sinister too. In fairness, there are turtles that are faster than some of these backing beats, but there’s no denying that the overall mood is much different to other artists working within similar genres. Wander/Wonder is at its quietest moments introspective, but never gloomy, and at its best it is genuinely uplifting. The first new track that fans were teased with was the pulsing “Apart”, a track that is representative of what Koone is doing with warped bass, slowed down beats and warped vocals getting as much of the spotlight as simple, understated moments of silence. And even when he quickens the pace the youngster still gets it right; the urgent “Motion” is bookended by a rousing pastoral string section and, as is a pervasive sound throughout Wander/Wonder- the sound of water. It’s touches like this that give the album a very natural and almost organic feel to it. Some of the quieter spots on the album remind me of Burial’s seminal 2007 album Untrue, but whereas the south-London producer included samples of (to name but a few) clips from Metal Gear Solid and David Lynch films, Koone frequently includes clips of water- whether it’s splashing (On the slow-burning “Await”) or dripping steadily, (On atmospheric closer “Fragile Hope”) it gives Wander/Wonder a feel of its own- something that is becoming increasingly more difficult for artists these days.

Beautiful from its simple album artwork to its simple use of sounds and mood, Wander/Wonder is a joy to listen to. Simple.

1. Welcome
2. Apart
3. Motion
4. Expect
5. Now Time
6. Oh, Why
7. Await
8. Fragile

Balam Acab - Wander/Wonder, reviewed by Lemon on 2011-09-07T09:49:48-07:00 rating 4.0 out of 5

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