A few years back, i picked up a record by The Sound Gallery, and found it to be interesting, vaguely goth-y (especially in the vocals), dreampop. They just released a new record, their third, and when i saw a copy i grabbed it, expecting more of the same.
Umbra is not the same type of record, not by a long stretch. This is an album of atmospheric ambient pieces. It consists of six long droning tunes (taking up 42 minutes) that could be the accompaniment to a dark and mysterious sci fi epic! It is mostly beatless, instead relying on textures from the various drones playing against one another to propel the songs along.
What an interesting development. I have since gone back and listened to that earlier Sound Gallery record i have, which is called Designed for Reading. You can hear hints of this sound buried under the guitar and the melancholy female voices. I find the development of this act to be relatively fascinating. How did The Sound Gallery get from dreampop to droning ambient?
Well, i think part of the issue is band membership. That earlier record was made by Herb Grimaud Jr with the help of many friends. Grimaud is the only person credited on Umbra. Left to his own devices then, this is what he came up with.
It is impossible to describe these songs. There just aren't enough reference points for most people. I know that the vast majority of readers would find this to be utterly boring music. But for those of you with a fondness for ambient, i would recommend Umbra. It is pretty interesting for what it is, and it has been a long while since i have heard anything quite like this. It is as if this music is a blank slate -- whatever mood you are feeling is projected onto the music, thus creating a simple feedback effect. For example, if you are feeling melancholy, the drones seem mournful. If you are happy, they seem uplifting.
I think that this is a fine record. It is not an album that i would play for most of my friends, but it is a fine album for just sitting and listening. Then again, that's what ambient music is for.