[4 March 2009]
“Pleasance” may be hurled about as an invective in the mass musical conversation, but truth be told there’s plenty of fantastic music out there that’s best at being “pleasant”, not the least of which being the most utopian of the late-period Krautrockers. The music of Jonas Munk (Manual), in addition to being exceedingly pleasant, usually has a kind of stillborn quality. It persists as the sonographic embodiment of each part of the golden eternal moment, the Azure Vista—the granular sand, the dawning sunset, the brush of tides, the reflection off of the sunglasses, and the sizzle of heat. It emanates from fuzzy warm synths and crisp harmonies with no momentum nor desire to ambulate, nowhere else to go and nothing much to say. Needless to mention then that texture is at the fore of everything Munk does.
Manual’s latest is Confluence, and, despite its title, it’s perhaps the most stripped Manual album to date. Amazingly enough, its shimmeringly soft beauties are composed almost entirely of treated guitar, with fragments of piano popping up here and there. The colorforms Munk is able to bend his guitar into are pretty impressive. But beyond the novelty of affecting string sound so much that it sounds exactly like Harold Budd’s celestial synthestra, you’re left to wonder why he didn’t just rev up some warm pads like the rest of his ambient peers. Regardless of the methodology, Confluence is top notch atmospherics with generous durations that pull the listen in and offer womb-like levels of comfort. Listen deeply to tracks like “Leirosa” and “Sanctuary” and your breathing patterns change in queue with its movements. This corporeal connection may seem like an uncomplicated, and thereby perhaps uninteresting, relationship to one’s music. But it’s a wonderfully pleasant one and, for that reason, one that’s enticing to return to often.