Independent release, 2011


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The voice of Toronto-based artist Brooke Manning – aka Loom – is inviting, like the warmth of the morning sun or the comforting touch of a loved one. There is poetry and dreaminess in her delicate vocals, which are charming, unassuming, and timid. Despite all this, Manning’s singing would not be as interesting if not for the music she accompanies it with. This is something that has been evident from her previous EPs and is most certainly clear on this full-length debut.

Manning’s singing style, combined with her music, has the gentle surrealism of Nordic exports like Sigur Rós and Stina Nordenstam. Epyllion has this kind of spaced-out vibe where the songs drift along like soft breezes or calming waves.nbtc__dv_250

However, there is tension nestled in the apparent serenity of the music. Like a horror movie where there is a sense of anxious anticipation for the moment of shock to come out of nowhere and startle you, Epyllion creates the sense of always being on edge.

The track “Promised Land,” for example, has an urgent repeated electronic pulsing tone in the beginning, as if it is going to detonate at its very onset. But this only leads to hushed guitars, which are calm but have a somewhat ominous feel. “Wholesome” is even more tense; it is reminiscent of early Sinéad O’Connor numbers, where the song explodes in the end. Only in this case, it doesn’t: the screeching guitars (although they are dampened) keep building up for an explosive climax, but instead of reaching a crescendo, die in a hushed silence as the song comes to an end.

On “Grown,” Manning’s jazzy singing sounds absolutely relaxed but also eerie at the same time. This number is absolutely strange and awesome, in that the music is brilliantly reduced to dark and subliminal effects in the backdrop. “Dream Doe” is very similar but darker, and it will give you even more chills. “Between Fires” seems like it came out of the womb of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah:” stripped down but hauntingly powerful, consisting of very little other than a gorgeous voice that will bring tears to your eyes.

The raucous “Around Again” is a beautiful outlier on this otherwise contemplative album. Its rough and bluesy “industrial” sound, which is reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s To Bring You My Love-era, shows that this disc can still rock if it feels like doing so.

Epyllion cannot be easily classified. It is a very simple album, yet it cannot be cut down to any particular music style. This is an album that you just give into and be open to feeling it on a deep and indescribable level. In its own subtle way, Epyllion is chilling, comforting, and seductive all the same, like a late night swim in the ocean.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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