A good ambient album will take you places. Some albums will take you to some place fantastic and mystical, while others can take you on a late night stroll through the forest or a late night through the city. Message To Bears' fifth record Carved From Tides is like a snow-ladden travel through the unknown. You don't know where you're headed, but it's certainly chilly and full of wonder.
This album has tracks that are simply beautiful. 'Spin-Float' features sweet, rich acoustic guitars on top of atmospheric synths that fill the track with a warm glow, and guest Gemma Alexander sings enchantingly over it. 'Breathe' is another beautiful track, shining with the same kind of dreamy piano vibe as Radiohead's 'Daydreaming'. What this track differs with, though is the beat that churns with the ever growing track. It builds in an almost epic way, as the instrumental becomes ever-more encompassing with its crystalline piano and sampled vocals. 'They Ran' is much the same, in a different way, though. The track features effected piano rather than the purer format, and focusses more primarily on growing ethereal vocal samples to make up its atmospheric vibe.
This album almost tells a story. The music flows like poetry without words. From the beginning you get the feeling of walking somewhere just before dawn with snow falling gently from the sky - the synths shimmering with the same glow and the snowflakes. You get the vibes of walking through a snowy forest in 'Blossom', while at the end with 'Hold On', rather than being a giant climax of a blizzard swallowing up the sky (surely that's not what you expected, though), you can feel the snow slowly trickle off into a gentle flurry as the first streaks of light breaks through the grey clouds. It's a very warm feeling you get at the end of this record; that's not to say that the album is otherwise cold and unwelcoming - well, it will give you chills, - but it feels like your experiencing a faraway familiar emotion. 'When You're Gone' seems to personify that emotion, speaking of ghosts in a distant way, as if it haunted the narrator until this sort of revelation. It's hopeful. It's interesting - you can't quite put a finger on exactly what the emotion is, perhaps nostalgia or one of its offspring, but it certainly feels lifting.
Message To Bears creating an ambient masterpiece. A lot of the tracks do work better in context of the album's consecutive poetry rather than standalone items, but as one start-to-finish piece, it's a fantastic listen. It gets slow at parts - which is what adds to the standalone argument - but it can be forgiven for that at its emotional climaxes. It's like a fine diamond that's not quite so perfect. It's cracked with the stories of a lifetime, that story being told through the music of Carved From Tides. Ambient album of the year goes to this one.
Favorite Tracks: Breathe, Hold On, Blossom, When You're Gone
Least Favorite Track: I'll Lead You There
Rating: 84 / 100