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White Noise: Balam Acab – See Birds EP

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Balam Acab – See Birds EP

Balam Acab's music could be called a lot of things. He's generally seen as part of the witch house crowd with acts like oOoOO, Salem and Modern Witch, but this EP really sets him apart. Yes, his music contains the slightly unnerving, sensual vibes that a lot of these projects give out, but with time these tracks give a lot more to the interested listener.

The EP, although only a brief 20 minutes in playtime, definitely lends itself to repeated listens. In fact, it'd probably be an easy one to pass over. His tracks normally kick off with asian-sounding string or electro samples layered with a dubby throb and dusty beats such as the superb and darkly atmospheric opener See Birds (Moon), or the equally excellent second cut Regret Making Mistakes which has a relentless and unforgettable dub pulse running right through the track. He has an excellent sense of timing, building and taking away layers of sound at the perfect moments to compliment his tracks and make them endlessly relistenable. And in every single track, just when you're blissfully chilled and sinking into his dream-like sound, he brings in some ethereal female vocals that sail across the top of his tracks, always perfectly and effortlessly implemented. A perfect example is the penultimate track, Dream Out, which has the sound of a benign, ancient machine straining to awaken from a dream. Or something similarly trippy and appropriate.
However the undeniable highlight of the EP is the central track, Big Boy. The track makes you wait a good minute before you get anything of real substance with a haunting little melody, but as soon as the bubble bursts it's completely enthralling, and you won't want it to end.

The last track See Birds (Sun) is good but doesn't quite hold the high standard of the others, and this coupled with the brevity of the release mean I couldn't quite stretch to saying it's an excellent record. But if you like the vibe, give it some time because this one is pretty much the definition of a grower, and certainly a winner.


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