Marco Vella - Shadow Mountain - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Marco Vella - Shadow Mountain

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:8 Release Date:2015-08-17

Forget your troubles and sink into a pile of fluffy clouds with Marco Vella's Shadow Mountain, won't you? The album bills itself as "nostalgic synth-pop", and that's pretty close to the mark, though it's a bit too ambient in most places to qualify as strictly pop in my book. The album is actually a multimedia release, with a booklet of mostly abstract, stark artwork provided by Kyle Jorgensen, who presents some lovely imagery that matches the tone of the music quite well.

The opening track, 'Tall', is a moody slice of semi-ambient electronic, with long pads contrasting against a sweet, jingling melody, that builds to a mini-crescendo before sinking into meloncholy. It's followed up with 'Why', a track filled with breathy, ruminating vocals paced by a rolling, almost churning bassline and warbling high notes. 'Patterns' gets a bit grindier with the beats, and adds a harsher synth, but keeps the melodic nectar flowing in the top range.

The album drifts back towards upbeat ambience with 'On Set', with its massive pads, delicate keyboard bassline, and urgent synth melodies. 'Runner' is actually quite the walker, or even swimmer, leading with a slow, aquatic descent through layers of floating electronics into a more active section led with a plodding horseback beat, scratchy melodies, and numinous dog whistle pads. Guitar finally arrives on 'Realities', sounding like an old timey cowboy instrumental from Mars. This song, as well as a few early ones, features an oddly spacious, echoing percussion that brings to mind a particular type of late 90s production that's hard to pin down.

The short set concludes with 'Awake from the Noise', whose title could not be farther from its content. This track is a rambling, almost folksy piece, with gentle, jangling guitars, moogy electronics, and charming vocal work. This is by far the closest thing to "nostalgic" to be found, sounding like a long lost Looper song.

The brevity and sweetness of this set lend it towards solid replayability, as you find yourself forgetting to switch to something else and not noticing precisely where one song ends and the next begins. Anyone who likes nice, friendly, occasionally pensive songs with find themselves delighted here.



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