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Into Forever

Manual & Icebreaker International
Into Forever
(Morr Music)

The newest in what will hopefully be a series of collaborative projects, Into Forever finds Manual (aka Jonas Munk, member of Limp and recent philosophy graduate) of the Morr Music label working with Icebreaker International (aka Alexander Perls, member of early incarnation of Piano Magic and all-around conceptual prankster). The theory of this first "Sound Of A Handshake" release is that the music from Into Forever will be placed aboard the Antares, an audio-projecting space probe which will be launched in the year 2011, plopping itself down in the middle of a galaxy 5 light years away from earth and playing these 8 tracks on infinite repeat on solar power.

Sure, the above may all be a line of bullshit, but it's an idea that Carl Sagan would have probably grinned at, and it's one that provides fertile musical concept ground for the two artists to work. Musically, it explores many of the same realms that Manual's last release Ascend did, but with little tweaks here and there that take it into slightly different places. The obvious similarity is that most of the tracks are still guitar based, but instead of being filled with micro-programming, a majority of the tracks are piled with other drifting melodies. If Ascend was music for late nights and early mornings, this is music for the same time while floating in a hot air balloon or space capsule.

Although the release is 8 tracks, it runs the length of a full release at about 45 minutes. The opening track of "The Countdown" bridges the gap between the albums with watery keyboards and only a quiet tick of a percussion, slowly folding over with multiple washes of sound. The title track of "Into Forever" drifts along with a lovely guitar melody and some subtle beat programming, along with some filtered vocals that toe the line of new-age and remind one of an old Mike Oldfield track. It's almost too cheesy at points, but gets pulled back from the brink each time by some quiet beat skitters.

It's the following two longer tracks that really push things into a cloud nebula of sound. "The Inner Rings" evolves ever-so-slowly from a sonic haze, as a shimmering melody slowly takes form over the course of nearly 8 minutes, while "A Thousand Years" brings the beat to the foreground, mixing warm layers of filtered guitars and bass over the top of a sputtering micro-beat. About halfway through, a keyboard melody pushes to the front of the mix, leaving the end of the track drifting in celestial dust again. "A Turning" is basically a remix of the album-titled track, speeding up things just enough and shifting items around while "The Outer Rings" again falls off into more droning territory, only allowing the sillouette of a guitar melody to blink through for a short moment.

Basically, if you're a fan of the work by Munk (either as Manual or Limp), you won't go wrong with this release. Although it's a little more on the ambient side of what you might expect from him, his fingerprints are still all over the release and tracks like "Beacons" sound like they could easily enough be outtakes from one of his previous efforts. All in all, it's a winning combination, and hopefully Morr will come through on their promise of delivering more releases between label artists and one-off collaborators.

Rating: 7.5