Melorman :: Waves (Sun Sea Sky)

Waves should bubble to the top of your playlist if you need a late-night soundtrack for your candle-lit gathering of Instagramming friends or spend long hours with headphones on and require an inoffensive, continuous soundtrack of trip-hoppy beats and euphonious melodies.

Continuing my relationship with the Illinois-based record Label SunSeaSky, which began with a review of Northcape’s Exploration and Ascent, under consideration tonight is Athenian musician Antonis Haniotakis’ latest album as Melorman: Waves.

The main thing that strikes me after a full run-through of the 9-track, 44 minute album is that it’s awfully pretty. There’s not a note out of place. From the opening washes of “The Sky Out Of Your Window,” evocative of the tititular ocean waves lapping against the shore, to the closing track “Numbers” which features a chopped-up synthesized recitation of integers, the album develops on its own time and with a serene, subdued sense of calm.

Adherents of the punk-rock school might rail against the mellifluous synth lines, the gentle kick-and-snare beats, and the floaty vocal samples from an entity identified only as “Helen,” which form the backbone of the album. Indeed I found myself wishing for an occasional bit of aggression or dissonance to provide contrast against the sweetness. But then, about halfway through “From Now On,” where Haniotakis’ clicks and swells reached a crescendo of sorts, I surrendered to the aesthetic. There are plenty of harsh and aggressive albums out there, but it’s been since Tycho’s Dive dropped two years ago and maybe the Xela/Logreybeam collaboration Where We’re From the Birds Sing a Pretty Song as Yasume in 2003, that a release managed to be as pleasant to listen to and as accomplished in musicianship as this.

The Tycho parallel is not given lightly, mind. Track 6, aptly titled “Deep,” takes it nearly into the terrain of homage, with a boom-bap build and breakdown that would mix effortlessly into the (similarly titled, even!) “Hours” or “Dive” from the SF artist’s 2011 breakthrough. Melorman manages to put his own stamp on the sound though, eschewing for the most part the warbly, detuned analogue sounds of his peers for a more straight ahead pads-and-leads approach. There are interesting rhythmic back-patterns going on in tracks like “Lights” and “Heights” and one gets the sense from videos like this one from Vimeo that the live show would be in serious danger of rocking out.

Waves should bubble to the top of your playlist if you need a late-night soundtrack for your candle-lit gathering of Instagramming friends or spend long hours with headphones on and require an inoffensive, continuous soundtrack of trip-hoppy beats and euphonious melodies.

Waves is available on Sun Sea Sky. [Release page]

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