Book of Romance and Dust
(2019 - Exit North Music - UK)
A prismatic gourmet sifting through sheets of atmospheric beauty, that any and all David Sylvian fans would be dreaming of. Like a follow up to Rain Tree Crow minus Sylvian's voice. but not far from. With some parts harkening back to the early 1980s Ivo Watts-Russell days of 4AD, with womb calm state of mind, and stressless existence, the intoxicating production presents the collaborative new band Exit North. One look at the members and it leaves no doubt that the recording will be of a special kind.
The credits are numerous and as follows : Ulf Jansson - Piano, Keyboards / Charles Storm - Synthesizers, Treatments, Guitars, Bass, Voices / Steve Jansen - Keyboards, Drums, Percussion, Sound Design, Backing Vocals / Thomas Feiner - Lead Vocals, Trumpet, Additional Piano, Additional Guitar, Harmonium. Then there are Strings : Max Wulfson - Violin I / Hanna Eliasson - Violin II / Tuula Fleivik Nurmo - Viola / Jung Hyun Byun - Cello / Hans Adler - Double Bass. Then String Arrangements: LESSONS IN DOUBT Mikael Backegård / BESTED BONES & ANOTHER CHANCE Mikael Backegård & Thomas Feiner / SEVER ME Thomas Feiner, orchestrated by Max Wulfson. Additional Vocals: Fyfe Dangerfield BESTED BONES / Robbie Lloyd-Wilson BESTED BONES / Hedda Älveby BESTED BONES & SHORT OF ONE DIMENSION / Anna Bylund LOSING. And the Additional Contributors: Lars Danielsson - Double Bass BESTED BONES & LESSONS IN DOUBT & SPIDER / Mattias Tell - Acoustic Guitar - SHORT OF ONE DIMENSION / Richard Hauer - Guitar NORTH / Bashar Sharifah - Cello SPIDER & ANOTHER CHANCE / Isak Eldh - Field Recording LOSING / ‘Saxophobia’ sample ANOTHER CHANCE courtesy of Saidera Records. So you have quite a large scale project, that all comes together like a wonderful masterpiece.
The main members have worked together in various connections in the past, and the most widely known is Thomas Feiner's contributions to Steve Jansen's 'Slope' album. Each musician is multi-skilled so the sound is expansive, even without all the sweet additions. Feiner's lead vocals do not sound exactly like Sylvian, but the dreamy slightly melancholy mood, does take the listener down that gorgeous meditative floating skyway. His voice sounds like a cross between Peter Murphy, David Sylvian, with a touch of Scott Walker. And with Steve Jansen (being David Sylvian's brother), a former member of Japan, and master of a few fertile solos and side projects, the sombre side of stately ambient beauty is here in abundance.
Not without a few jack knives out of the peaceful aura, the thick lush and mostly dramatic scale of the recording keeps the listener on top of the highest peak. The music is rich with late night enchantment and warm surrealism. Each piece brings a mirror up to the forefront, reflects a varied image, and rarely shows the listener what they are expecting next. The album requires a full listen to appreciate the many different textures, dynamic changes, and surprise slopes and springs. With all the added strings and soft touches, plus the ravishing vocals by Anna Bylund on 'Losing' (track 8), if you blink you will miss something magnificent. The last cut 'Another Chance' is overwhelmingly blissful. Fortitude is required. Do NOT miss this majestic and lithesome offering. RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 5 - 15 - 2019