Norman Records (staff)

Absent Without Leave exists in the vacuum between post-rock and ambient music. This EP is really cinematic-sounding, as tones and drones are artfully overlaid using guitars and no doubt a sea of effects pedals. I guess comparisons could be drawn with the likes of Emery Reel or Stafraenn Hakon, but the drumless drifting also ventures into the throbbing, uplifting, slow melodic pulse of the likes of Stars of the Lid. The first side of this record is taken up with a single composition based around a repeated chord sequence and lots of layers of delay and gentle drones over the top. Totally blissful stuff. The second side is two tracks which are both much more minimal than the cinematic grandeur of the first side, but still very affecting. I'm getting a bit of an Epic 45 feel from these ones. There's a real glassy clarity to the guitar on these tracks, whereas on the other side it's carving out dense swathes of texture. It inspires a sense of stillness in me. It seems a shame that I have to write this review, or I'd be horizontal by now. Both sides are very different, but both uplifting in their own way. I think today I prefer the uncluttered airiness of the second side, but another day it might have been the searing pomp of the first.