Manual – Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides

Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides

Darla Records has once again released another spectacular and glossy double-CD of celestial music. This time it comes in the form of Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides, a collection of rarities, remixes, covers, previously unreleased pieces and even brand new tracks from Manual.

For those who don’t know, Manual is the pseudonym of one Jonas Munk. And the collection here shows off his command of the full spectrum of the electronica genre. Following in the footsteps of some of the genre’s pioneering artists like Tangerine Dream, Michael Brook and some lesser-known artists from the old Private Music label like Patrick O’Hearn and Sanford Ponder, Munk takes both a classical and experimental approach to shaping electronic compositions into emotional and colorful, yet engaging rock music.

With an arsenal of great musical ideas, an assortment of electronic effects, some guest musicians and their influences, such as Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins, Violet Indiana) and Port-Royal, and finished off with polished studio production, the tracks compiled on Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides show Manual in it’s finest hours. From the sublime, celestial soundscapes on Disc 2, to the dreamy, shoegazing indie-pop on the Guthrie collaboration “Marbella”, to the spaced-out cover of Slowdive’s “Blue Skied An’ Clear” and an entertaining rendition of the Jan Hammer-penned, Miami Vice song “Crockett’s Theme”, this double-CD is a pleasurable listen from start to finish.

These compositions show that Munk is an adept multi-instrumentalist with a head for experimentation, a desire to push the envelope and an ear for the melodic. He has created some multi-faceted and spacious, yet fresh and stimulating electronica. A kind of bouncy dream world where celestial sounds orbit swirling pop beats. With occasional heavenly female vocals mixed in with some dynamic programmed beats, deep bass and heavily-reverbed, shimmering guitar washes, there is plenty to delight the ears and the gray matter in between.

Over the course of several years, it’s apparent that Manual has developed the ability to blend older, sequence-based analog synth styles, classical ambient tendencies and contemporary electronica techniques in stellar fashion, resulting in full and rich, yet open and atmospheric pieces. Munk fills the open spaces with sweeping and luxurious, shoegazing guitar swirls and experimental sound effects in such perfect balance that these tracks can be enjoyed at low volume as art installation soundtracks or as engaging rock music blasted at full volume.

Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides is a good place to start for the uninitiated to become familiar with Manual’s sublime electronica or an excellent place to go for those in the know, but either way it shouldn’t be missed.