Autumn in Halifax - natural landing

Foxy Digitalis

This new recording of Autumn In Halifax demonstrates once again the special talent of David Merulla for creating deeply evocative and melancholic soundscapes with his electric guitar. It also features William D. Doucette on drums and assorted percussions and is entirely instrumental from beginning to end. Consequently, the music featured here is somewhat different from the rather laid-back "post-rock" kind of songwriting that was previously associated with Autumn in Halifax.

The first track gives us a clear idea of what the music will sound like on this particular record. It is mostly built on an intricate series of interactions between the two musicians in a "live" context. On one hand, aerial guitar chords are delicately woven through a very controlled use of delay while the drummer, on the other hand, is able to sustain a particular dynamic via a very precise use of brushes.

However, the electric guitar clearly stands out; its ethereal, yet visceral quality constantly enables the duo to explore and discover new paths. In this respect, the second track ("Natural Landing") epitomizes the band's aesthetics – full of vanishing points and crossing lines that manage to sketch out an elusive, yet perceptible horizon.

Sometimes, a few keyboards and (reversed) loops are added to the mix with some charming and surprising results ("Delicate Pursuits"). At other times, a mini-xylophone of sorts is used both as a percussive and melodic counterpoint.

Yet, it is the guitar and the drums which give a sense of direction to the pieces. The modal nature of the music allows the duo to bring a few blues-like tonalities to their instrumental reveries in a way that may – at times – recall the Durutti Column. In this respect, the epic track that constitutes both "Barcelona, Es" and "Documentura" is definitely one of the album's highlights.

Once could very well consider this album to be experimental as it shows a different angle from which David Merulla carves out his own melodic universe. Yet, it may not necessarily satisfy those who will be looking for some slightly more "unknown" musical territories that may still involve a similar kind of sound. This remains a truly fascinating listen nonetheless. 6/10 -- (27 February, 2007)

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