Artist: Message To Bears
Title: Folding Leaves
Label: Dead Pilot Records
Release Date: January 16th
Written by Tom Johnson
I’ve really struggled to write this review. Which is in no way meant as a negative comment against either the artist or their work, but is perhaps reflective of the overall tone of this record. Folding Leaves is the third release from multi-instrumentalist Jerome Alexander under his Message To Bears moniker, and it’s an album full of delicate, dreamy soundscapes that gently weave their way into your conscience. The record plays out very much like a film soundtrack and it’s fair to say that it’s more successful and intriguing as a whole piece rather than a collection of songs.
I think my problems regarding the writing of this review stemmed from the dream-like nature mentioned above. Various field recordings mixed with layers of hushed guitars, gentle vocals and sparse, glitchy instrumentation is pretty much the standard on every track here creating a constant and absorbing sound which plays throughout.
That’s not to say that there aren’t stand-out moments here though. Opening track ‘Daylight Goodbye’ is a gorgeous introduction, all twinkling piano and decadent strings, while ‘Mountains’ is the albums most instant song, built around a memorable guitar line and Jerome’s strongest vocal to-date.
Elsewhere, the wintery feel that the record possesses is perfectly encaptured on ‘Everything Was Covered In Snow‘, a glacial and mesmerising number which is as close to a ‘post-rock’ number as the album gets; a Sigur Ros-style piano melody is gently built upon with disjointed vocals, the sound of children laughing and gorgeous strings. Unleft, the closing track here, is one of the most melancholy moments on Folding Leaves, it’s constant and repetitive guitar part draws you in completely while layers of indistinguishable vocals are gradually brought into proceedings.
All in all, Folding Leaves is an introverted and atmospheric record and I feel I’m almost doing it a dis-service by not being more enthusiastic about it, but it’s genuinely hard to say much more than “It’s great and I really like it” which is in some degree down to the nature of the music that Message To Bears make but, all that being said, there is certainly a need, and a demand, for records as engaging and genuinely heartfelt as this.
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