A Brighter Birth by R Micklos is an album that blends electronica, ambient and lo-fi acoustic into one. There are some great moments within the album, many of which could be developed even further.
The album opens with “It’s Even,” which has Postal Service-esque string patches, gentle fingerpicked acoustic guitar and a simple mantra towards the end. “Where I Want To Be” contains a constant electronic pulse, an electric guitar that alternates between grungy chunks and an Afrobeat countermelody, and an electronic organ under layered vocals. “Twining” is an interesting electric guitar canon that moves into some bluesy lead work. “Lost B Boys” has some nice Beach Boys harmonies over an 8-bit keyboard patch. The song resembles a video game soundtrack in tone and melody before the vocals enter. “Old Danger” starts out with some beautiful electric piano arpeggios before a repetitive vocal line enters. It has some real drive to it, but ends before it can take off.
That sums up most of the first two-thirds of the album. There’s some great moments introduced and repeated, but before they can go anywhere they disappear into the abyss. “Our Heat” has a Bon Iver-ish vocal and a “Lean On Me” calliope part that is interesting but doesn’t develop. “Refurb Ventilator” has the most interesting chord progression on the album but is gone very quickly after it begins.
The aptly named “Billy Joel Watching VH1 Insomniac Theater,” however, is the best song on the album. It has a great pop-song chord progression and works as a simple yet effective piece of mood music, part of which is the simplicity of the instrumentation.
The end of the album suddenly features the acoustic guitar as the most prominent instrument, which for the songs work extremely well but it is a little striking to have such an abrupt change in tonality after hearing all of the previous electronic/keyboard based tracks. It almost feels like a separate set of songs/EP. They’re very good and the strongest of the collection.
“Whisper In The Wind” is a swirling acoustic guitar reverie with electronic drones and other noises that sneaks in part way through. The title of the song is evoked in an echoed harmony that builds nicely. There’s some really effective momentum in the song bringing forth new melodies and ideas towards the end. “Wings Mend” has a unplugged-Nirvana-ish power chord progression with whispered vocals behind it. It’s by far the most “traditional” song form. “Whirl” finds a way to blend the electronic and acoustic in an effective fashion with the chugging guitar playing along the electronic drums while synth pads ebb and flow. An electric piano solo near the middle has some beautiful moments in it and the song could work as a soundtrack piece. At the very end, there’s an abrupt electric guitar entrance that feels like it might be out of a different song but the addition of vocal harmonies and the swirling of electronic noise help to tie the song together. “Godwood (Meditations)” closes the album with some delicate Nick Drake-like guitar picking, ghostly vocals, a steady organ and radio static. It works well as a closer and is a great example of development of a simple idea into a larger soundscape.
It would be nice to hear some of the ideas developed either in harmonic progression, the layering and introduction of instruments or the melodies from the end of the album inspire some of the songs near the beginning. R. Micklos finds some great tones, patches and initial melodic ideas; it would just be nice to hear them expanded.
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