Review by Leo Charlton
Sick to death of the abysmal English weather we’ve been having so far this summer? Too broke to afford a week in the Sun to get away from it all? Worry not, for one listen of Left of Manila’s Coast EP will transport you and up to four friends to a sun-dappled picture of serenity you could only dream of. Goodbye, Great Britain. Hello, Italian Riviera.
What it lacks in run-time (only three tracks to be found here) it makes up for in substance. ‘At Your Side’ is a slowly building wave of sound that comprises of swirling synths and a laid-back drum groove heavy on the hi-hat. Then there are the vocals, a blend of Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) smoothness with Guy Garvey’s (Elbow) dulcet tones. They sit cross-legged in the mix, occasionally dipping below the surface before soaring once more. It all makes for some fairly accomplished chill-out music, at once blissed out and ethereal. Repetitive? Certainly. Boring? Absolutely not. Tranquil? Now there’s your tagline.
‘Asleep In Stone’ and ‘Trainway’ are creatures of a rather different nature. The former consists of an electronic, almost industrial drumbeat that gives the track its backbone, whilst the reverb-heavy arpeggios and Giorgio Moroder-style synth motifs provide the atmosphere. It’s darker and even more viscous than ‘At Your Side’, but no less enticing.
‘Trainway’ is an ambient soundscape complete with percussive loops that bear more than a passing resemblance to the sound of a train in motion (see what they did there?), alternating two-note motifs and the sporadic appearance of a low, humming frequency. There’s more than a dash of M83 and The Sound of Arrows in there, but ultimately it’s got Eno’s influence all over it. In contrast to ‘At Your Side’, the two latter tracks of the EP sound less sunshine chill-out, more moody and gritty night-driving music, the kind of neo-noir soundtrack that would have fit perfectly in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, if only the Driver was nocturnal and on anti-depressants.
Coast is an accomplished record, its only real weakness its ultimate folly: There’s only three tracks. Seems we’ll just have to wait a little longer for our next ambient fix. Praise the Higgs Boson for the repeat button, ay?
Review by Leo Charlton