Discovering new music is always beautiful, discovering great music is beautifully amazing. This is the case of me and my discovering of ETT. ETT is the last work and the first full-length album from Row Boat, the ambient/post rock solo project of the British musician Mark Wardale . I’m listening to it again and again and I still don’t how it is possible that I didn’t know him before!
In 2009, Mark Wardale began composing ambient music after years of writing and playing in bands and his first EP, Romance, is a good point to start diving into the Row Boat’s music world. Three years later, the British artist composed a new EP titled Svaret är ja (The answer is yes) and now, with ETT, Mark has definitely gained a place in the ambient/post rock music scene.
The music of Mark Wardale is a combination of ethereal and sweeping layers whilst incorporating strings and horns to an alternative rock genre. Sometimes I recognize Hammock influences, sometimes Sigur Ros influences. By the way Mark has been able to create an album that is really unique in its genre. ETT is a wonderful collection of 10 songs, each one with its own character through which Mark has encapsulated a world of serenity and melancholia. From the very first track you will be transported to that daydreaming land where this album takes place.
The album opens with the title track and immediately you’ll get into a sound full of lush, rich and deep ambient textures, stretching and warping through piano notes. The first track works like an interlude to the album: just one minute and a half and it’s the turn of ‘Prova’ that follows a similar pattern of the previous song with a beautiful crescendo and the addition of some unique reversed vocals sparse here and there, elements that Mark uses very often throughout the whole album.
The following ‘Frostavallen’ is a playful experimental lullaby. I particularly enjoy ‘Radslan’ which has a piece of Iceland inside and makes me think of the beautiful landscapes you see through the window when you travel across that beautiful island.
The contemplative ‘Fix Your Bones’ has a lot of beauty and melancholy inside; there’s light and there’s darkness. It’s a work of art. ‘By Winter’s Night’ instead is the romantic soundtrack to a night walk into the foggy and intimate atmosphere of a lovely countryside. The pure ambient songs, ‘Aurora’ and ‘Igloo’, announce and celebrate the sunrise. Sun is shining and light is everywhere. Diving into these two songs is like floating in a ocean of sun light. It’s ethereal, it’s relaxing, it’s piece of mind. ‘Kampaglod’ brings a load of melodic pulses to the album. I especially enjoy the drumming here and the wonderful bass line. ‘Kampaglod’ is a jewel box and you will most likely adore it. The peak of the album is also the intro to the stunning closing track, ‘Annika’.
‘Annika’ is a matter of pure intimacy, is reflective, is your personal experience with yourself. This song is so intense and goes so deeper that can really be what you want. ‘Kampaglod’ and ‘Annika’, together, are ten minutes of pure beauty.
There is a lot more I could say about this album starting from the fact that I’m really happy to be here reviewing it, proclaiming my new great discovery to the world of music lovers and letting you know that this is an album you must own. Start diving into the Row Boat’s music world and I’m sure it will gain a place into your favorite playlist.