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Marsen Jules
(City Centre Offices)

I'd never heard the name Marsen Jules before listening to Herbstlaub, but if this release is any indication of his talent level, I think that ambient music fans in general will be hearing a lot more from him in the future. Over the course of six tracks and just under forty minutes running length, Jules floats the ghostly cloud of strings and dense washes of ambience that recall in part everyone from William Basinski to Colleen to Gavin Bryars.

Much of the above references come from what is obviously a very orchestral foundation with which Jules has created this release. Although very few instruments come through the mix unfiltered, one can hear the sweeping grandeur of strings, the delicate and precise tones of piano, as well as chimes and other organic beginnings that are then turned into massive washes of sound. The opening track of "Fanes D'Automne" pushes forth slowly with epic sweeps of filtered strings while single piano notes sail through the fog like the slight wink of a lighthouse off the coast.

On "De La Mort D'Un Cygne," the track opens with a filtered wall of sound that reminds one of hearing a harpsichord reverberating around on the inside of an abandoned silo before more filtered strings roll into the mix and make the track feel like the channeling of Wolfgang Voight's (aka Gas) amazing textures on Zauberberg, Konigsforst and Pop. "Aurore" is a little more pastoral, drifting along with lighter sounds that could be the soundtrack to an idyllic countryside jaunt before "Aile D'Aigle" again brings back powerful lower end sounds and another dense arrangement that lets some pretty string melodies slip through nearly untouched.

The rest of the album follows the same sort of patterns, with heavily reverbed harps, strings, and chimes that exhale like they're being breathed out of your own body. There's something about the sounds of classical instrumentation that seems to translate well to ambient electronic music, and while Jules is by no means the first one to do this sort of thing, this is one of the better pure ambient releases that I've heard in awhile and easily the best I've heard this year so far. For fans of all of the aforementioned artists, as well as hazy Touch label artists like Biosphere. Really lovely.

Rating: 8