Review: Murmur, The Boundless Black

Connecticut hardcore veterans take a sharp detour into the acoustic realm, with stunning results

You’d be forgiven for double-checking the liner notes on The Boundless Black to make sure that you had the right album. After all, with half of Murmur’s personnel hailing from 100 Demons (Peter Morcey) and the other half listing Jagged Visions on his resume (Ryan Patrick White), one might reasonably expect music of the plugged-in and pissed-off variety. Such, however, is not case.

Connecticut’s self-styled “dark-alternative-folk project” spin the kind of introspective acoustic soundscapes that dovetail perfectly into rainy Sunday mornings and lonely drives through the countryside. Opener Beneath The Silence showcases Murmur’s starry compositional vision — spare acoustic strumming, luminous vocal harmonies and chilled atmospherics painting the spaces between the notes. The risk with this style is its inherent predisposition to the kind of comically-indulgent warbling that emerged in the wake of bands like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. Thankfully, Murmur deftly sidestep this pitfall by stacking the album with a siege of instantly-hummable melodies and dreamy choruses that build into towering sonic waterfalls. Long Before The Light morphs from a spare, cutting elegy into a panoramic vista of lustrous textures and kaleidoscopic strings. Elsewhere, tracks like Good Mourning and closer The River move with an ineffably languid pace that recalls Red House Painters. Standout track To The Reeds brings Murmur’s vision into focus with arresting lyrics that chart a violent demise and ascension into something gracious, moving and desperately beautiful. Without more dramatic variances of pace, The Boundless Black does occasionally suffer from too much homogeneity, with one track bleeding into the next. But taken as a whole and absorbed in one uninterrupted listen, Murmur’s debut is deeply-immersive and utterly mesmerizing.

Rating: 8
For fans of:  Sun Kil Moon, Damien Jurado, Iron & Wine
Label: Deathwish, Inc.