Manual Ascend

Manual, aka Jonas Munk, is an electronic cherub who grants us Ascend, a magical gem that occurs when the electronic and the instrumental are brought together with a deep understanding of music and timing. Each tune is beautifully rendered with an inspired balance of atmosphere and melody to perform pure magic, exploring variations on happy themes. The CD opens up with "Midnight Is Where The Day Begins," an uplifting tune that is like flicking the power switch to a carnival where a whole brilliant world comes to life. Throughout the album the interplay between instrumental and electronic is like the interaction between gnomes and their wondrous mechanical creations. Whether submitting to the carefree seaside lingering on "Astoria" and "Cassy" or the playfully charming "The Distance," Ascend is music that makes for special moments. Closing up with "Keeps Coming Back," this album is so good that the listener is charmed into doing just that. (Morr)