30 Jul 2021 - Pat O'
Ambient/Post-Rock/Dream-Pop | Release date: 04 Jun 2021
Immanu El have released Distance, an absorbing and pure album that reflects everbody’s experiences throughout this Covid-19 pandemic. It’s emotive and captivating and no matter what your own experiences have been over these last eighteen months, this album will somehow connect with your own personal narrative.
Before I begin this review, I want to give you a very brief background to Immanu El. Its simplistic formation lends itself to the beauty that it creates. It began its inception as a musical experiment way back in 2004 by Claes Strängberg. It wasn’t very long before they knew something special was beginning its infancy so Claes was soon joined by his twin brother Per and friends David Lillberg and Jonatan Josefsson. The band has gained a huge reputation for themselves as one of the most promising bands from Scandinavia. I think their music is best described as Ambient dream rock and it encompasses so much atmosphere and emotion that it sets them apart from so many that try to fit and shape their sound around this niche genre. It’s music to get lost in, it’s music to reflect to, and it’s music to seek solace in. So lets quietly and ever-so-calmly immerse ourselves in their latest offering Distance.
“Breathe Out Black Out Pt 2”’s first few chords could easily be interperated as life’s first breaths with its heart beaten percussions smothered under an ultrasonic blanket. Alternatively however, it could be best described as the sensation you feel with the first breath you take when you open the window on a glorious spring morning. The music is breezy and airy with windswept synths blowing in the air giving off the scent of rich green grass soaked in a light morning dew. The sounds and the smells are both warm and comforting and it’s the type of music your alarm clock should have on default forever. Those who are familiar with Immanu El will know the magic these musicians can conjure up, but if the delicate and transient sounds are new to you, you will no doubt feel there’s an unmistakable resemblance to Sigur Ros. With both these bands, the music transports and relaxes with delicate ease and poise. “Breathe Out Black Out Pt 2 is simplistic in orchestration, but this is music for the soul, and once your body lets this light in, then the rest is irrelevant. It’s a beautiful and positive opening track and really does set the scene for the next four tracks.
“Tundra” has another Sigur Ros vibe coming off it with the opening chords, but Immanu El soon take full ownership of it with some wispy vocals and lush melodies. For me this track feels like a continuation of “Breathe Out Black Out Pt 2”, the tempo is slow and patient, the journey still so serene. That heartbeat is still present, pumping rich claret streams towards every vital organ. The musical layers blend and harmonise perfectly and continue to escort you on this beautiful path of reflection and contemplation. In actual fact, It does it so well that the next track “Sparks” flows without interruption, washing you with more waves of synthesised goodness. Panpipe like echoes add more depth and fragility to the music, gently building in pace to more translucent backing vocals, before the main vocal delivery whispers and trembles in your ear, creating a deep and personal connection to the track.
“Desesaure” begins with distant thunder and fireworks illuminating the sky, giving the feeling of a warm tropical storm rolling inwards. Musically this is just stunning stuff from Immanu El. It’s so ethereal and near celestial. It’s not easy to find the words to describe the feeling you get when you find yourself captivated by their simple and very intimate soundscapes. Maybe the best way to do this is to listen to the final track “The Big Sleep”, where the angelic vocals play us our first ever cradlesong and without knowing it, sings our last heavyhearted swansong with the words “Quiet, my rest has been so quiet. past decades and centuries reduced to a memory. Steady, my body has left me, returned where I came to be as earth took it back from me”. It’s heartfelt and poetic and brings great closure to the album.
Distance is a journey in itself, the cycle of life, and the distance we all take, no matter how long or short it is. It’s a case of capturing the moments that matter and enjoying them for what they are. This album is whatever you want it to be, whether you follow its positive and airy presence, or you see a darker but equally comforting undercurrent to it all. It’s simply beautiful. So, on that note I’ll leave the last words to “The Big Sleep”. “Roar of a trumpet as bedrock erupts. I know the voice I hear that call me back, call me back. I am rising up, you’re brighter than the sun”.