This is an interesting album. Maybe not having immediate appeal, but worth getting to know and taking a bit of time over.
The first three tracks - 'Nil Admirari', 'Describing Bodies' and 'Stress Wave's form a kind of triptych. 'Nil Admirari' launches straight in, no warning, as noise. It is noise. You'd kind of think that if you hit ALL the notes then you'd manage, somewhere in there, to hit the RIGHT notes. 'Nil Admirari' proves otherwise. But it gradually resolves itself into grand organ chords and slips fairly seamlessly into 'Describing Bodies'. This is a 'gentle giant' of a track - big, big organ sounds overlying other barely discernable instruments - a bit like a remixed 'Rainbow In Curved Air
', which is no bad thing. Still, this track morphs into 'Stress Waves', swathes of soft sounds slightly reminiscent of 'Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares
' or even maybe Vangelis's 'Memories Of Green
The title track 'Returnal' is the most immediately appealing. A strong rhythmic structure topped with breathy treated vocals, reminding me of Jon Hassell and B Eno
in it's mix of electronica and 'natural' sound.
'Pelham Island Road' is more atonal, simple on the face of it, but strange tropical animal noises haunt the background, slowly taking over and becoming progressively scarier as the track progresses, like a jungle reclaiming suburbia. In feel, it's almost reminiscent of J G Ballard - maybe 'The Crystal World
' - that sense of surreal decay.
'Where Does Time Go' is kind of 'Heavenly Music Corporation
' Frippertronics and Tangerine Dream. It swirls, repetitively, and timelessly. It is a beautiful track to loose yourself in.
'Ouroboros' reminds me of the 'Discreet Music
' album, with it's mix of cushiony synth sounds and underwater instruments. Gentle, short.
'Preyounadi' is back to those jungle sounds; more percussive this time, almost 'musique concrete' but echoey and somehow wet - a gritty, steamy sound a bit like 'Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict
' but with an underlying Jon Hassell/Brian Eno organic synth sound. And soft, inarticulate vocals. It's remarkably evocative but not immediately appealing, repaying repeated listening.
And that's kind of like the whole album. There are one or two immediately appealing tracks; the rest need a bit of work. But if you're prepared to put that work in, then it is a genuinely interesting album and I'm looking forward to more.
(N.B. Bit rate displayed in iTunes is around 220Kbps VBR (Variable Bit Rate)).