According to his press release, Kramies deals in “Atmos-pop” and it’s an accurate description too. This Dutch-American artist has spent several months touring old pubs and concert halls in Ireland for inspiration, to further his quest for ambient perfection.
For his first release on the Hidden Shoal label, ‘Intro’ begins serenely enough with pure vocals, rustic guitars (from David Paolucci) and smooth electronica but the song becomes engulfed by drone. The title track sees the beauty from beginning to end, however. It’s epic in a quiet way as Kramies offers melancholic ache as a riposte to the swooping electronic backing. Similarly, after a slow start, ‘Inventors’ is full of interesting layers of sound. Standout track, though, is undoubtedly ‘Coal Miners Executive Club’. Here, the keyboard washes are as big and colourful as an M83 track but any worries about bloated melodrama are brought down to earth by Kramies’ grounded vocals. Then just to prove he can keep it simple, ‘Antiquarian’ changes tack to leave the artist with voice, guitar and the minimum of effects.
‘The European’ is rich in detail and of course atmosphere but Kramies is clever enough to balance the high-flying surrounding noise with some heartfelt delivery. He should visit Ireland more often based on this performance.