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Balam Acab – Wander / Wonder album review

By blending elements of Dubstep, Dream pop and Electronica, New York native Balam Acab has successfully crafted one of the better ambient albums of the year. With Wander / Wonder, his first full-length, Balam Acab (also known as Alec Koone) makes being aimless enjoyable again by aptly combining beautiful, hazy melodies with a placid hip-hop twist, the result being an overall very gentle album that only gets better upon future listens.

The atmospheric, laid-back production value and chipmunk-style vocals have a strange chemistry that adds a certain level of depth to the other juxtaposing genres. While slow at times, Wander / Wonder really glows with songs like “Motion” and “Now Time”. “Oh Why” is perhaps the greatest song on here, as the gentle melody is enriched by a beautiful voice singing as though it were straight out of a golden age MGM musical.

It’s no coincidence that this album’s called Wander / Wonder, since all the songs seem to immerse themselves within a different atmosphere, leaving you with an album that feels like you’re either gently floating above the ocean, or seamlessly gliding further below it. On “Await”, the second to last song, you hear the sound of distant waves hitting the shore, as if alluring to the realization that you’re just now reaching the surface of a beautiful expedition that has taken you deep into the ocean. And with “Fragile Hope”, it’s as if the tiny drops of water that are immersed in the background serve as a signal that you’ve finally surfaced. This album has the power to either captivate you or work as a cure for insomnia; both can be seen as good things.

Simply calling it an ambient record doesn’t do it justice, as this is an album that revels in traversing through, quite literally, different layers and atmospheres. Wander / Wonder is an album that, after multiple listens, is truly able to reveal its depth and beauty. One of the few albums that is successfully able to make you feel like you’re somewhere else, the high moments are well worth the low.

By Brad Smith

"Did I listen to music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to music?"

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