The musical duo of Jonas Munk and Jason Kolb, otherwise known as Billow Observatory, have turned subtlety into a gorgeous, slow-moving art form. Their ambient and new age “shoegaze” forms like fog rolling over a chilly lake. Heavily-effected guitar and synths cascade together into something altogether new and transcendent. Both on their own have made albums of quiet, dense soundscapes; Munk on his own and Kolb in Auburn Lull. Together, through long distance file sharing and years of back and forth ideas and studio experimentation, Billow Observatory have made three heady records of both dark and light sound. Gauzy works of subtle, psychedelic soundscapes.
On their latest forthcoming LP, Munk and Kolb return to Felte Records after releasing their last two album on Azure Vista. Felte is where the band started and released the self-titled debut. Back in May of 2020 Billow Observatory released single “Wash Away The Dust”, and now they have just dropped a new single called “Red Morning”. The track is accompanied by a music video which was created by Detroit-based filmmaker Joseph Querio. The interpretive, hazy clip seems to mimic the tracks slow-rolling vibe; churning sounds from some existential divide between here and the other side. The video emanates from some primordial darkness, but over the song’s five-minute runtime a kind of eternal light becomes apparent. The song has a determined uplift to it, feeling as if waking from a long, deep sleep. The video depicts that in a very surreal, cascading way. It’s like Villeneuve interpreting Tarkovsky interpreting Eno soundscapes.
Billow Observatory have been a favorite of mine over the last few years, but even more so over the span of 2020. In a time of societal, political, and emotional turmoil, the albums of Munk and Kolb were a massive source of peace and internal centering. Their records are a quiet space to contemplate and re-calibrate in a world out of calibration, wobbling and shaking to some unknown outcome.
Billow Observatory make quiet, thoughtful soundscapes for the shaky heart and the wobbly brain.
Watch Querio’s video for “Red Morning” below, and keep up with Billow Observatory here.