Manual Drowned in Light

Despite being completely ignored inside his home country of Denmark, Jonas Munk has managed to forge a following in the UK and U.S., delivering nine LPs of temperate, temperamental ambient electronics under the moniker Manual. Like Ulrich Schnauss, Munk's sound remains heavily indebted to early '90s dream pop and shoegaze in its aesthetic, if not structure. Songs like "Afterimages" and "Morning Glass 1982" would come off entirely light and airy if not for the fact that Munk drenches most of his work in gallons of reverb. As most of his ambient contemporaries exploit synth and piano, adding shape to their compositions, Munk decorates songs like "Empty Inside" and "Phainomenon" with hopeful guitar and pinprick melodies. Late album tracks like "Blood Run" and "Issa" kick the BPMs up a pinch, adding sturdy drumbeats and curvy rhythms. Drowned in Light is a mini-highlight in Munk's career, an album that could see him poised to conquer new territories, figuratively and literally. (Darla)