Published Feb 20, 2015Five years is a significant break to take between albums, but that's how long it was between the eponymous debut album of Los Angeles-based producer Brendan Angelides and SOL, his sophomore full-length. Informed by Angelides' orchestral composition with the Echo Society, his field recordings from Redwood Groves, Yosemite and Costa Rica and a concept centered on the character of Sun, Moon and Earth's influence on the daily life of a normal human, SOL has a driving artistic vision behind it. It's a more complete album than his debut, with flourishes that capture the imagination: the last sound of "SpVce" is similar to the first sound of "Combustion," for example, while the blending of title track "SOL" into progressive epic "The Light of One Thousand Furnaces" helps to cement its flow as a whole.
Angelides said he wanted this album to be more sweeping and emotional, rather than the exercise in pure sound design his last album was, and he achieves that. The sombre, creaking piano ambiance of "Tamara" sounds like it was a borrowed sketch from Kid Koala's Space Cadet project, while "Combustion" captures some of the resounding existential massiveness of Ben Frost. "Blue and Grey" incorporates strings and piano into its percolating texture of finger snaps and water drops, his voice distanced.
It doesn't always work, though. In context, the cheesiness of "Mind of War" sticks out like a sore thumb, utilising the kind of weird '80s sound palette you'd expect from Yeasayer, while "The Sun is a Drum" sounds a bit like watered down Orbital and the unnecessary lyrics of "Can't Taste" taint an otherwise sublime track, like putting nacho cheese on caviar. Overall, while it does appear as though Angelides has been bitten by the sophomore album slump, there are some significant moments here that show an artist growing into something bigger and better than ever before. (Apollo)