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Manual is the project of Jonas Munk, a Danish shoegaze artist. I have been following Manual's work for a few years now, and i enjoy his lush production. Manual tunes are characterized by echoing guitar, chugging drum machine beats, and occasional female vocals. He has a style that is not too different from Guthrie or Schnauss, and yet is all his own.

Additionally, Munk has apparently recorded some purely ambient music. Confluence is the third release in this series. It's not exactly easy to find Manual releases, so i guess that i just haven't come across the other two yet. Honestly, i had no idea he did this kind of stuff. The music here is more like the work of Yellow6 and The Sound Gallery than it is like that of Schnauss.

A fascinating dichotomy, made all the more so because in this era many artists would make up a separate name for a project so different. Future Sound of London released some records as Amorphous Androgynous, when they thought those records were too mellow for FSOL release. Aphex Twin also has AFX, Octagon Window, and who knows what else. But Munk just sticks with his one musical name. I respect that a lot, even though it is unusual. To be honest, i find the "one person releasing slightly different music under different names" trend to be confusing and frustrating.

So thank you, Mr. Munk, for making this simple for me. If this had been released under a different name, i might not have picked it up, being unfamiliar with that other "artist". As it is, i bought this without having read anything about it, so i expected it to be like the other three Manual release i have. I expected the songs to have lush guitars and nice beats. I was actually shocked at first in listening, since it was not what i was expected, which is when i did some online research and discovered that he has two other albums like this. I also did not know that this is the eighth full Manual release, and that Munk has been at this since 2001.

Well, anyway, this is pretty cool stuff. He does pure ambient as well as he does electro shoegaze. Confluence is eight compositions clocking in at a total of just over 65 minutes. Two of the pieces are short, interludes really, and two of them stretch out past the thirteen minute mark.

It is in the longer pieces that Munk really shines. My favorite piece here is Oracle Night, a slow tune with echoing guitar that ebbs and flows in lovely washes. But the whole thing is pretty good. If you like ambient music, that is.

The tracks here are just Munk playing guitar under a lot of effects. His playing is so electronically modified that there is nothing resembling a "note" or a "chord". Instead, the sound is a haze, a floating cloud of noise with the barest of structure. There are no beats here -- Munk left the drum machine at home.

If you like this sort of thing, i find Confluence to be worthwhile. If you do not enjoy ambient music, but are a Manual fan in general, consider yourself fore-warned.

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