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The Voyage Out

Michael Nace
The Voyage Out
(Minority Records)

After 5 years with math-rock band Drill For Absentee, Michael Nace decided that he needed to go in his own directions. Coming from someone with such a background, The Voyage Out is definitely not quite what I expected to hear. With a musical comparison that lies closest to someone like Nick Drake, Nace has created a 12-track album of quiet and subtle orchestral folk tracks. Mixing classical guitar with acoustic and a touch (just a small one) of electric guitar, the album coaxes gentle melodies out of the instuments and backs them with everything from mandolins, strings, keyboards, and vibraphones.

Taking it's title from a Virginia Woolf novel of the same name, the release starts out with "All Of Them," and the similarities are noticible right away. Singing along with breath vocals, Nace mixes delicate percussion with plucked guitars and a touch of strings. At one point, the track builds a bit in intensity, but never quite reaches a level that could be considered 'rocking out.' Those same sort of delicate combinations continue for the next couple of tracks, including the amazing "Always," which very well may be one of the best tracks on the entire disc, stripping down the instrumentation to only vocals and some ocassional backing strings and vocals.

Although it takes its time in getting there, the ending of "Lucky, Solitary Life," is well worth the wait, as percussion layers and guitars build into something slightly more edgy than the rest of the meandering track. One of the only instrumental tracks on the release, "Overature" again brings some urgency to the release with building guitars and percussion that unfortunately end a bit too soon. The final track of "Timestorm Was The Signal" cranks up the volume even a bit more, and had it come in the middle of the disc might have felt out of place.

Overall, Nace has definitely created some very nice moments on the 45 minutes of music on this release. While it sags a bit over the middle section with several songs in a row working the same sorts of sounds, the melodies and vocals stick in your head after the disc has stopped spinning. Another interesting thing about that the album is that it's being released on the Minority Records label in none other than the Czech Republic. While I doubt that Nace would have had problems finding a home for it on a label within the U.S., it's a solid little release for the label that will hopefully help it gain some footing on an international scale.

Rating: 6.75