Wisconsin’s Ryan Vanden Heuvel apparently “has a thing for music with no words”. This is the cue for forty minutes of sublime ambient/post-rock, where the tunes are generally upbeat but with plenty of openings for the melancholy to filter through.
As is often the case, when instrumental music hits home, it can often possess a stronger emotive pull than lyrics. ‘Come Alive Again’ is certainly a rousing opener; revolving around a nagging guitar refrain and propulsive bass rhythms and is a very good example of modern shoegaze. ‘Stray’ brings in the crashing waves but as soon as the warm chords and glacial beats take hold, the track casts its seductive spell. Vanden Heuvel rarely opts for the loud side of post-rock and even when he does so – as on the towering, skyscraping ‘The Change’ – it is balanced by enigmatic melody. The slightly cheesy ‘1988’ sounds like it may have been recorded in the late 1980’s but still has a certain period charm. On the other hand, the superb ‘Isolate’ rides in on robust rhythms, squalling guitars and serene layers of melody to make some lovely modern dream pop and an experimental conclusion to the record is given further weight by the samples and haunting atmosphere of ‘Escape Control’
That ‘Healing Sessions’ title is not as inappropriate as you might thing. This is music to lose yourself in but it’s always strident and strong enough so that it doesn’t succumb to the traps of background chillwave music.
Melorman, David Newlyn