Listening to Billow Observatory is like looking over one’s life before hitting that great gig in the sky; balmy melodies bloom in transcendent waves of ambient textures and dark soundscapes, much like I’d imagine one’s own life plays before them before we exit stage left. The electronic duo of Jonas Munk and Jason Kolb don’t go for the new age trips as much as they do wanting to encapsulate us in the slow motion noise they’ve been creating for ten years now. There’s no push in their sonic world to make us feel something specific. It’s more of this subtle nudge that allows us the listener to dig in ourselves a little deeper.
It’s musical fuel for inner journeys.
Starting in 2012 with their self-titled debut, Munk and Kolb have built this very specific ambient music world, one that pulls from everything from Private Press releases to psychedelia to shoegaze to dream pop and Komische. Billow Observatory expanded, honed, and refined their sound with each successive release, echoing what came before but distinguishing each release with its own sonic touches and flavors.
Their most recent album, Stareside, was released this past April with Felte Records. It saw Billow Observatory laying the sonic soundscape for an almost sunrise positivity. It was their most light-filled release yet, escaping the minimalism of II : Plains/Patterns and the dark ambivalence of III: Chroma/Contour. It was a progression of mood, structure, and emotional intent. On January 13, 2023 Billow Observatory is partnering with Felte once again for the Calque EP. Five songs, that by the sound of single “Kiyosumi”, is continuing that musical journey further into the light.
“Kiyosumi” is under four minutes, but what Munk and Kolb do with that time is what matters. There’s an orchestral feel in the track; synths waver in optimistic sheen like subdued brass as gauzy ambient tones flutter in string-like waves. As with much of the Billow Observatory canon the song blooms out, slowly but with meaning and significance. You’re never directed, merely shown the paths laid before you.
“Kiyosumi” inspires one to look forward, whether into light or dark. If this is any indication as to how the rest of Calque will land, I’m excited for January 13th. Give “Kiyosumi” a listen below, and I think you will be as well.
‘Calque’ drops 1/13/23 on Felte Records. Preorder it here.