A project of 20-year-old Pennsylvanian Alec Koone, Balam Acab was first linked with the witch-house movement and the likes of Salem when releasing his first EP, See Birds, in 2010, but with this debut full-length he completely transcends that genre. So almost vanished are the haunting samples and creepy atmospheres that define witch-house, which now give place to more serene and peaceful sounds.
Let’s call it the consequence of natural evolution – and what a beautiful evolution it is. Wander / Wonder is as evocative as it gets – think Burial’s sophomore Untrue -, with its heavily processed voices coming from a distant place and blending with delayed synths and other liquid sounds. Actually, liquid could be the exact word to describe what’s in store in here, as everything seems recorded underwater but still not deep enough to leave us in complete darkness: we can still feel the sun rays slowly dissolving around.
There are also hints of classical music in the choice of samples, but again, those are a subtle addition to the delicate surroundings. And then there’s the final element: silence; ultimately, this is one of the few records recently released where you’ll mostly get to feel it around. And who knew it could sound so gorgeous? (7,5/10)
Balam Acab “Oh, Why” (listen):