Birds of Passage :: This Kindly Slumber (Denovali)

In the depths of the cold gray winter, This Kindly Slumber is an embracing warm port to dock your heart in for a while.

Alicia Merz (aka Birds of Passage) comes from the island country which some of its stunning locations and lands starred as Tolkien’s legendary Middle-earth. I don’t know how much New Zealand’s wild sceneries affect Alicia’s music, but there’s surely something wild in her highly evocative songs. The lush dynamic ambient drifts she weaves around her captivating singing conjure up images of cold widespread landscapes watched from above. Down there its cold and harsh, but the listener is somehow safe and warm in the sky. Her voice emerges from a snowy mountain top in the far distance, flows like a spell through a forest at night, and slides over a frozen sea, softly cracking the ice shell.

Being a fan of 40-minute long records and music that uses space and melody, it is easy for me to experience This Kindly Slumber in its entirety and fullness. More subtle charms reveal themselves with each listening session. Each song becomes deeper, wider and more effective with every spin. The layers are made mostly of Alicia’s voice, electric guitar, keyboards and piano. Everything is judiciously soaked in effects and sparkles with a panoramic sense and individuality. Alicia’s enigmatic lyrics intensify the mysterious vibe, and leave the music open for the listener’s personal interpretation. The slow, alluring movement of the songs and the magnetizing intimacy they carry remind me of Mazzy Star’s timeless dream pop pearl, So Tonight That I Might See. Even though there isn’t too much similarity in sound and style between the two records, both intimately wrap and capture with hypnotic, quiet yet highly stirring music.

This Kindly Slumber is Alicia’s third solo album as Birds of Passage, but the first that I have heard. Of course, diving into her previous work, which also includes a collaborative album with Leonardo Rosados named Dear and Unfamiliar and a collaborative album with Gareth Munday (Roof Light) under the project name Brother Sun, Sister Moon, is now something I feel I must do. Her vocals also appear on the Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones album, Quatorze Pièces de Menace, which was released last year.

In the depths of the cold gray winter, This Kindly Slumber is an embracing warm port to dock your heart in for a while. Alicia delivers an addictive, bittersweet sonic potion that takes hold of the listener slowly but surely.

This Kindly Slumber is available on Denovali.

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