Australia is hardly the poster-child of hospitable environments for human beings, but if Summer Blanket's Contour Capital is your first introduction to music from the land down under you'll be forgiven for thinking otherwise. A one-man music maker by the name of Nick Bunting is to be credited for offering up these six tracks of moody summer bliss. No idea how fertile the ambient scene is in Australia but I hope to be the first to coin the terms Aussie-wave and Australiambient. The album's structure relies on soft drones, shimmering hums and occasional synth notes to torrent away Bunting's waterlogged vocals. Like some doped up merman, his voice rises through the sounds just long enough to catch a glimpse of it before flicking its tail away and disappearing beneath waves of warm noise. What this means is his voice is more an instrument than a lyrical vehicle but who needs lyrics anyway? There's something about eating fish early on but otherwise you're on your own for identification.
Bunting doesn't fight it either; he knows the place he creates for himself in his music and sticks to it. Example: the periscopic blips on "3 am" create drawn out beats for Bunting to gloss over. It's almost ridiculous to even mention other ambient acts in an ambient review, but some of the more earthy drones, particularly in "Eat, Beast" and "3 am" remind me of Stars of the Lid melancholy. Yet heartbreak is absent from Contour Capital. Instead it has a sound of acceptance, like something lost won't be found and it's best to go with the flow. This doesn't always translate well into the music; the opener "Adrift" is a decent track by itself but does a poor job of setting the mood for the rest of the album. The longest track "Remnant" is also the most dispirited musically. Bunting picks himself up, though, on the closer "Wind on a bare mast", when he actually lets a bit of rhythm shine via a New-Wave synth line and you can actually hear him say "I love you" as the song swells midway through.
Contour Capital has a good sound, a strong sound. It expands and stops but never contracts. It draws you in but lets you breath if you need to. It's an impressive feat for one man to accomplish, all the more so because it's an ambient album that conveys feeling, not just implies it.
Divide and Conquer is dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We review a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
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