Album Review: Wander/Wonder – Balam Acab
New York musician Sam Koone’s project Balam Acab is like dreaming of Atlantis, there’s plenty of subdued sounds woven into an calming tapestry that has floated to the bottom of the ocean. The use of aquatic soundscapes on Wander/Wonder definetly give the record a sense of identity. However I imagine it to be like floating in an isolation tank, peaceful and soothing at first but after a while you begin to get a little bored.
Although Balam Acabs hodge podge mix throws in everything from pianos, harps, malfunctioning 8 bit sounds and digi diva ghost vocals in an attempt at carving out an individual lane, there is a lot on here which sounds similar. The ambient, atmospheric sounds you hear throughout are very reminiscent of Kiwi composer Rhian Sheehan. And of course the manipulated vocal samples are taken straight from Burials playbook, a move which many producers are trying right now it seems. Mixing these two styles does have interesting but ultimately varied results, when the work together in unison it does produce a very intriguing tone. Neither light nor dark, its more a fluctuation between the two. However the bad apple in this particular batch is the over use and reliance on these tools, Acab produces some very sweet and dreamy textures but a big part of Wander/Wonder feels too repetitive. Generally he’s heading in a good direction by tweaking the possibilities of these elements, but one good idea does not a great album make.
However the ambient, downtempo nature of the record does make for relatively easy listening. Its put together fairly well and despite the repetition the record as a whole dosent come off as either frustrating or challenging. If your looking for some pretty well structured chill music to have in the background, or something to help clear your mind a little then this might just be for you. However if you’re after something more substantial than a palette cleanser you might want to give it a miss.