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Ben Howard — Noonday Dream (1 June 2018)

Ben Howard — Noonday Dream (1 June 2018)

                         Ben Howard — Noonday Dream (1 June 2018)Ben Howard — Noonday Dream (1 June 2018)↓↓     At the 2013 Brit Awards he received the Brit Award for British Solo Male Artist + British Breakthrough Act. He performed at 2013 Glastonbury festival on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday 29 June. He released his second studio album, I Forget Where We Were, in October 2014. As of 2017, he is a member of the band A Blaze of Feather with India Bourne, Mickey Smith, Nat Wason, Rich Thomas and Kyle Keegan.
EDITORS’ NOTES
↓↓     BRIT Award~winning folk~rocker Ben Howard spent time in southwest France and Cornwall, England, creating Noonday Dream; the result is some of Howard’s most impressive and immersive songs yet. Where his debut Every Kingdom favored catchy hooks and rhythms and I Forget Where We Were introduced meditative darkness, Noonday Dream is, as the album title suggests, a series of unpredictable yet brilliant scenes that disappear too quickly. Ambitious tracks “Nica Libres at Dusk” and “A Boat to an Island, Pt. 2 / Agatha’s Song” move like short films, with Howard’s low voice providing poetic narration. “Murmurations” closes the album with a moving sentiment: Ignore the outside noise and be present for what matters.
Born: 24 April 1987 in Richmond, London, England
Location: Bantham, Devon, England
Genres: Singer~songwriter, indie art progressive  ambient rock
Album release: 1 June 2018
Record Label: Island Records
Duration:     50:26
Tracks:
01. Nica Libres At Dusk     6:34
02. Towing the Line     3:56
03. A Boat To an Island On the Wall     7:10
04. What the Moon Does     5:21
05. Someone In the Doorway     4:56
06. All Down the Mines (Interlude)     0:47
07. The Defeat     5:53
08. A Boat To an Island, Pt. 2 / Agatha’s Song     4:54
09. There’s Your Man     4:39
10. Murmurations     6:16
Vinyl extra tracks:
11. Bird on a Wing
12. Interlude
℗ 2018 Ben Howard Music Limited, under exclusive licence to Universal Music Operations Limited
Review
Roisin O’Connor, May 30th, 2018 / Score: ★★★★★
↓↓     Songwriter finds stillness in exquisite new record.
↓↓     On his third full~length project, Howard expands the Cornish landscape that has impacted his previous work and brings in sounds and instruments that spark the imagination to places further afield.
↓↓     Following on from his acclaimed second record I Forget Where We Were, Ben Howard returns with his first album in four years: Noonday Dream.
↓↓     Now 31, Howard has matured into one of Britain’s most talented, intriguing and unpredictable artists who, on this third album, resisted any pressure from fans or his label to put a deadline on the new release. Instead he seems to have secluded himself in spaces that inspire that natural brilliance — from southwest France to Sawmills Studio in Fowey, Cornwall — with his longtime band that feel, to the average Howard fan, more like family. 
↓↓     Naturally shy, at his live performances he tends to curl over his guitar and face the side of the stage, or away from the audience; engrossed in those gorgeous long stretches of instrumentation punctuated with just a few words at a time. Noonday Dream, which he produced himself with frequent collaborator Mickey Smith, captures those live shows more than any of his previous releases, with the clear, crisp touch on the piano; warm reverb on an acoustic guitar; and the snatches of conversation and click of heels on hard floors.
↓↓     Howard’s music has always, above all, reflected the shifts and moods in nature, while he sings lyrics that are more poetry than traditional songs in his signature low, warm murmur. On Noonday Dream, he expands the Cornish landscape that has impacted his previous work and brings in sounds and instruments that spark the imagination for places further afield, in the most exquisite way.
↓↓     Opener “Nica Libres at Dusk” is a walk in shimmering heat, dust kicked from underfoot, with Howard’s voice singing dirge~like on the verses then drawn sweetly out like smoke from the cigars on the chorus; somehow evoking the soaring eagles depicted in the lyrics through a high whine on the electric guitar. “The Defeat” features what sounds like a didgeridoo that thrums low beneath the clash of symbols and Howard’s lyrics contemplating: “Where does the robber go, where does the robber go to repent?”
↓↓     Most tracks pass or hover around the five~minute mark, so “Towing the Line”, at 3.56, is one of the briefest, yet just as beautiful in the way it opens like the soundtrack of a silent film — capturing the nostalgia of a tune by composer Yann Tiersen — then fades out in a strange distortion of the song’s sprawling, Spanish~influenced guitar. On his Mercury Prize~nominated debut Every Kingdom, Howard’s voice was much lighter; now it has deepened to a low mumble, making the lyrics harder to make out, so they emerge from the instrumentation like the scraps of paper he says he wrote them on, making certain lines feel all the more poignant.
↓↓     The eerie noise that opens “A Boat to an Island on the Wall” — Noonday Dream’s first single — with the hushed lap of water on wood drifts, slowly into Howard’s gentle acoustic guitar, and that whine on the electric guitar is heard again, this time like a sudden gust of wind. He and the band build and build on the instrumentation with the same quick, steady hand as a fisherman weaving a net; layering textures of guitar, vocals, violin, cello, drums, lonely calls in the background and then, halfway in, a lull interrupted by a bright synth that lifts the track to a new energy: dark and stormy as the waves around the boat; grown suddenly restless. 
↓↓     Then on closer “Murmurations” he finds the stillness again; after the nomadic exploration through all those landscapes, there is quiet. “It’s so peaceful here, no one to fuck it up,” he sings, voice swept away by the crashing drums so the final line sounds as though he’s singing from far away: “I could see through miles, miles.”
↓↓      https://www.independent.co.uk/
Also:
By Landon Turlock. Posted on 30 May, 2018.
Score: 8.5/10
Notable Tracks: “A Boat To An Island On The Wall”; “Murmurations”
FFO: Mount Eerie, Bon Iver, Alt~J
★     The sunlight is split by your hastily drawn curtains, splashing lines of shadow onto your face as you occupy a state you couldn’t quite call sleep. Part of you feels rested and relaxed. Another part worries that you missed your lunch reservation, or that it’s already the next day. However, this worry isn’t quite powerful enough to pull you off the couch and into consciousness.
★     It is exactly the above experience that Ben Howard’s Noonday Dream conveys sonically. The folk/ambient musician’s third full~length explores a series of unique textures and maintains interest all while never elevating your resting heartrate. Noonday Dream will be available on June 1.
DRIFT
★     “Nica Libres At Dusk” captures exactly the half~light one might experience before falling asleep, somehow both unsettling and comforting. This feeling is accomplished by the clockwork of drum brushes paired against guitar swells. When this combination morphs into more traditional picking, it resolves a sense of anticipation that may be promising or perilous. Although the song remains relaxed in terms of tempo and delivery, it sacrifices nothing in terms of compositional detail — bass lines, clean guitar leads, and various soundscapes trade back and forth just beneath Howard’s folky voice and rhythm guitar, rewarding the attentive listener. The evolving arrangement of the opening track establishes the incredible compositional value that remains consistent throughout Noonday Dream’s 51 minutes and ten tracks.
DREAM
★       Two of Noonday Dream’s singles immediately follow, making for a compelling first third of the album. “Towing The Line” creates oceanic vibes with island~like swells and synths, but pairs this care~free sound with an unexpectedly mournful tone.
★       “A Boat To An Island On The Wall” on the other hand further explores Howard’s penchant for ambient sound design; crashing waves of sounds soften into strummed acoustic guitars and somber talk~singing à la Mount Eerie. This is another track that should be listened to multiple times, as subtle string arrangements and distorted bass lines make brief appearances that lend depth to the track before disappearing. However, the most interesting element of the track comes in the distorted guitar and drums that occupy the latter half of the song. The tonality is really compelling. Managing to somehow take the aggressive edge off of the guitar’s oversaturation, it instead paints a darker hue from an expansive sonic palette.
★       Although the general tone of this Noonday Dream is spacey and reflective, Ben Howard still offers varying degrees of drive and darkness. “There’s Your Man” is one of the more upbeat, traditionally folk~rock offerings here, made all the more enjoyable by a cleverly syncopated rhythm and dancing, delay~heavy guitars. This upbeat energy is contrasted by album closer “Murmurations” — the final track’s electronic percussion dances across the stereo spectrum on a floor of distorted pads that are equal parts comforting waves and creeping undercurrents. This unresolved conclusion evokes just the feeling you might have being pulled from a lovely daydream into reality.
AWAKE
★       Noonday Dream could easily be dismissed as a quiet, mournful record that will only appeal to folk fans. However, such a statement dismisses the incredible attentiveness and dynamism contained within these subtle arrangements. The production and arranging on this album make each repeated listen a lesson in restraint and clever minimalism that will certainly influence my approach to music for the next while. Even if you’re not interested in dissecting the unique soundscapes on display here, Noonday Dream is a relaxing, reflective record that will impress Ben Howard fans while gathering him new ones.   ★     http://www.itdjents.com/
Website: http://benhowardmusic.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/benhowardmusic
Blog: https://www.notey.com/blogs/ben-howard
Discography:
★     Every Kingdom (2011)
★     The Burgh Island E.P. (2012)
★     I Forget Where We Were (2014)
★     Noonday Dream (2018)
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Ben Howard — Noonday Dream (1 June 2018)

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