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Backed By Spirits

Backed By Spirits
(Neo Ouija)

Backed By Spirits is the debut release from one Praveen Sharma and it's a sepia-toned album of filtered instrumentation that blurs and obscures source instrumentation into flickering electronic soundscapes that ebb and flow like shifting sands being pushed by breezes of different strength. It calls to mind work by the likes of DNTEL and Manual in places, yet doesn't really have a direct reference point that one could connect it with, making it sound familiar, yet existing as a unique entity.

"A Sad Sad Day" opens the release with glinting electronics and a loping beat that thumps along patiently as loops of harp create majestic swoops and filtered vocals add only breathy tones. Backwards instrumentation swirls in the background and even though the track doesn't really follow any set structure, it progresses nicely and drifts into "Float," which melds some of the same high electronic washes with lower bass groans before clicky, cracking beats enter the mix and provide a bit of a backbone to the rather nebulous aura.

"Haze" thumps away with a more pronounced beat while "Cecilia's Fruit" is again content to drift and drift through dense passages of washing sound before finally coalescing with a beat nearly three-quarters of the way through the track. If Backed By Spirits lacks in one area, it's that it doesn't quite ones attention melodically. It's truly an album of the digital age, as it has track after track of gorgeous textures, but can't seem to make up it's mind whether it wants to actually go much of anywhere (most rhythms are used in very, very short doses, feeling somewhat tagged on in places). Despite the above complaint, there really is a lot to enjoy on the release, as Sharma really has an ear for lush sounds that go together. The obviously-titled "Piano In A Hurricane" track that closes the album takes a simple melody from (you guessed it) and breaks it about in about 10 different ways, leaving it barely recognizable in places. All in all, Backed By Spirits slags a smidge in places, but is still a very enjoyable listen.

Rating: 7