Billow Observatory's album marks the second release on Felte and lives up to the name of creating and surveying parabolic plumes of sound. The combined talents of Danish producer, Jonas “Manual” Munk and guitarist Jason Kolb of dream pop Auburn Lull make music from their self-appointed lighthouse / observation deck designed to create and document expansive swells and retractions of tranquil experiments in audio research.
It is here where their parabolic sound forms become realized in long movements where the changes are gradual, and the casual listener’s patience is often challenged. With Felte’s initial release being Brooklyn’s ERAAS’ self-titled; Billow Observatory takes us deeper into the electronics enhanced sound sciences where the listening audience deciphers the duo’s field work like amateur anthropologists.
Gazing from the surface of openers like “Calumet”, it brings to mind the ambient work series of the 70s after the UK glam rockers discovered Germany’s proto-electronica developments. Billow Observatory craft unified movements that unfold and connect like unconscious discoveries, where the track “Pankalia” seems to complete “Calumet” four song cycles later as a collection of track abstractions, atmospheric fragments that when combined create air crystallizations that stir completions of thought, feeling, song, and sound.
“Slow Billows” creates a zero gravity sensation in the way the guitar loops waver and the keys swoop like birds synchronized in flight. “Helsinki” takes radio distortion that births keys lifts out of the squelching procedures that open up new air vents of sound flows and key fluxes. “Dim Language” is a language to itself with the key-fading dimmer switches that transmit like beams of light. While the trio does not make what I would refer to as music for films; the thunder heart beat clasp of “Janina” echoes a tense movie scene of high stakes and dark undercurrents. “Kronstadt” sounds like explosive billows of clouds and smoke that conjure to mind conflicts observed from an orbiting space view consisting of the kind of detachment measured in light years. The keyboards or guitar in “Ambros” sound like radio wave signals attempting to communicate to a form of deity while “Bergson” clocks in less than 16 minutes time, providing a tedious exercise in incidental background music for interstellar documentaries, or to others a white noise upgrade that presents the trio’s signature peaks and valleys volume gain bends of time-sequenced sound wave sustains. “Parlance” follows in the former’s steps with brighter cadence notes.
Even the disbelievers will reconsider the Observatory with the “Bilocation” trilogy song cycle worthy of an album/EP release that could stand on its own gigantic terms. “Bilocation Part 1” opens up the saga like a ten minute viewing of the sun’s early rise, “Part 2” enters into a photo synthetic phase where the multi-locations of keys, guitars and faint vocal trails (most likely one of Manual’s guitar effects) stir blissful euphoria into the key change closer of “Part 3” that leaves us with eastern bell echoes.
Billow Observatory requires the alignment of mood and calm attention to focus on the duo’s lulls and rises away from the surrounding demands of stimuli and distractions. Jason Kolb takes the sonic gentility of his guitar work from Auburn Lull into Jonas Munk’s processes and treatments that transform the struck chords into sound stitched keys of woven audio debris that soar like particles through air duct passages. This is the brilliance of Jonas and Jason’s creation, where instruments become indiscernible matter and objects through engineered innovation. While the long soothing audio vapors border on the monotonous, a listen in the right frame of open mindedness can prove to be both ground shaking and mind shaping through shifts in the mix that continue to stir wonder as to what further intricacies and audio trickeries from Billow Observatory would yield.