If ever there was music to simply sit back and chill out to, this is it. Erik Mongrain is another gifted musician from Montreal, Quebec. The list of talented artists from the French province just seems to be getting longer by the day. This is the 28 year old's second release, the first is entitled Fates. He has been inspired by the likes of Stanley Jordan, Don Ross and the late Michael Hedges. Mongrain's playing style is a story in and of itself. According to the press release, Mongrain experimented with a technique called lap tapping where he uses both hands to tap the instrument, it is almost like playing piano chords. He first showcased his talent by playing in the streets of Montreal. Now, I am not a musician but I can appreciate the skill involved and my ears can attest to that. This is a fine album of acoustic music that will appeal to fans of the genre. To actually put a label on this music is not an easy task. I would say it combines elements of jazz, new age, with just a touch of progressiveness. I really like the way he is able to flesh out harmonics from the acoustic guitar, providing the tunes with a little more atmosphere than what otherwise might have been. Mongrain is able to create a soft musical palate upon which his acoustic melodies seamlessly weave. His technique also leads the way for some interesting percussion sounds that I presume he makes with his hands as well as . This also helps to create a fuller sound. That being said, remember the acoustic guitar is the focus and the instrumentation is quite sparse. The songs tend to sound quite similar to one another so describing each one is rather pointless. You might think this is a detriment, but that is not necessarily the case. There is a nice flow between the songs that I think might have been lost if the musical style changed drastically between one song and the next.
One highlight for me in particular is the album's last song "Maelstrom". Unlike the title suggests, this is a mellow affair with some excellent bass sounds that flow through its entirety that probably makes this my favorite on the album. As a matter of fact the fretless bass work throughout the album is outstanding courtesy of Michael Manring. Bill Plummer provides synthesizers.
While this album certainly is not life changing, I enjoyed it for what it is - good acoustic guitar instrumental music with some nice atmospheric melodies interwoven in the mix. So, if any of the above intrigues you I urge you to check out the samples provided by the link below. Enjoy.
1) A Ripple Effect
2) Alone In The Mist
5) The Silent Fool
6) Pandora's Box
7) Eon's Illusion