SlowPlaceLikeHome ‘Romola’ album – Review

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slowplacelikehome-romolaHailing from Ballyshannon in the south of Donegal, Keith Mannion delivers a mellow slice of atmospheric indie-dance under the guise of his SlowPlaceLikeHome alter-ego. Romola is endlessly inventive, with each carefully layered tune full of twists and turns and unexpected sonic wanderings.

It’s difficult to inject a pastoral feel into electronic music, but the self-proclaimed ‘interstellar forest dweller’ manages to do just that over the course of the ten tracks on this album. This is helped in no small part by the fact that Mannion likes to incorporate field recordings in to his music, which brings to mind this scene from 24 Hour Party People.

It’s those field recordings that open the album, the sounds of the countryside dance in the air before the near whispered vocal ushers in the opening track Our Rules. This track sets the template for the album, with spacey, sci-fi synths and reverb drenched vocals the order of the day.

Not that these are the only sounds on the album. Mannion seems to draw on a vast range of influences and it is interesting to note that he said in a recent interview that he hadn’t listened to many new releases over the past couple of years as he wanted to develop his own music untainted by what else is going on at the moment. This has lead to a highly idiosyncratic approach that sees Take On Me style drums on She Comes In Colour Stereo sit easily with the God Is An Astronaut and even whisps of My Bloody Valentine type approach that characterizes the likes of Set Fire To The Stars. 

Although rooted in that futuristic synth sound, it’s the range of instruments that keep things interesting. Delay heavy guitar dominates Autumn’s Children, which is the type of tune that brings to mind roaring red summer sunset than the title suggests. Elsewhere Perfumed (With Life’s Imperfections) features some impressive call and answer dynamics between guitar and drums before wandering off into an entirely different direction while Luna is literally adorned with bells and whistles.

There is also the slightly menacing Romola Parts one, two and three to contend with although the overall tone of the album is that blissed out, ethereal vibe that knits everything together.

This is a fine album, that offers something new with every listen. Country living has never sounded so good.

 

Mark O'Brien

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