by Mark Anthony Brennan
Release Date: November 25th, 2014
The album ‘As We Travel’ is a work of delicate beauty that, for the most part, gives a sonic portrayal of our coldest season. Despite being primarily electronic, there is a true organic feel in its evocation of the elements, such as wind, rain, ice and snow, as well our place within those elements.
The majority of the tracks are instrumental, but they are not without structure. The opener, “The Seventh String”, for example, starts out with the swirling ambient sounds of keys, electronics, found sounds and ethereal, wordless vocals. The reverie is quickly broken, however, as a solid beat grabs a foothold, and soon afterwards strongly melodic synths take over with a sense of purpose. Finally, the wintery landscape is joined by the warmth of acoustic guitars, giving assurance that there is life even in this harsh and cold place.
Although the majority of the album is as ambient as the opening number, some of the tracks are somewhat more worldly, with “Alaskan Cabins” having a more urban rhythm and “Days We Spent Apart” featuring an R&B vibe and a shuffle beat. It is interesting to note that the two songs featuring actual singing are a contrast in styles. In the R&B flavoured “Regeneration” Sammy Jackson gives a earthy, soulful performance, whereas Kaleigh Watts’ vocals on “A Quiet Winter” are more in the realm of dreamy chamber folk.
It would be misleading to characterize ‘As We Travel’ as a purely ambient album, given that each song carries with it such meaning. Furthermore, it would be inaccurate to describe the music as coldly electronic (despite the winter theme) as the entire work is alive with human emotion and warmth.