Thomas Bel – The Birds are still the Monarchs – CD – Annexia


Yet another new name to drop onto my doormat, both label and artist being unfamiliar to’s strange how these folks find their way into my humble domain, but I’m glad they did. Thomas Bel produces charming electroacoustic vignettes that breach the disciplines of minimalism (they certainly are very spare pieces), and modern composition. Bel’s strength is in creating poetic and almost childlike atmospherics that resemble incidental music for experimental animations. Deploying all manner of techniques, field recordings, glitches, spoken word pieces, guitars and piano’s Bel weaves a surreal, magical tapestry from economic use of instruments. The 9 pieces here all have their own unique signature, and having just read Frans De Ward’s review of this work in Vital, I’m not sure we were listening to the same album! Where De Ward sees a lack of originality, I see a burgeoning talent that is both unique and deeply entrancing. I guess we don’t move in the same circles, but I found Bel’s work tantalisingly engaging, like a film played in slow motion, I was eager for the next sequence of events. For me, the second track, Lend Lende is sheer auditory magic, a spellbindingly simplistic approach that oozes charm and originality. 

Apart from the disappointingly designed packaging, I have little to criticise here, and look forward to hearing subsequent Bel releases. These emotive and fragile pieces recall lost moments and the preciousness of time..spare yet sparkling..a must have. BGN 





About whiteline1

WHITE_LINE was set up three years ago, in order to play and promote the work of artists and musicians working under the banner of "minimalism", in all its many guises. This has led to a regular and highly successful mix slot on the Garden of Earthly Delights radio show in the UK, and guest appearances on Resonance FM (frequenzen show). We now aim to extend the remit of the mix slots by reviewing (as often as possible) material that encapsulates and crystallises the minimalist ethic, and hopefully we'll be leading artists and audiences alike towards a deeper appreciation of this and other marginalised genres. I welcome your comments, and criticisms, and would love to hear from labels and artists who would like their work showcased on the show, or reviewed here. We regret that due to time constraints, we cannot review everything that is sent to us, but will endeavour to give exceptional work an "honourable mention" at the very least, and links to quality sites that we think worthy of mentioning. I am trying to support labels and artists as much as possible by promoting their work, not least because I am a stereotypical "struggling artist" myself, but also because there are so few younger artists entering this particular scene, and there is a danger of it becoming the sole domain of a handful of forty somethings who really ought to be doing something better with their time! Having worked for most of the more reputable underground magazines in the early 90's, I was never afforded the luxury of taking time and care over reviews, as deadlines and column space were always hanging like the sword of Damocles over me. With WHITE_LINE, I have the luxury of being able to review when I have time, and I am receptive to a particular mood, and hopefully this will reflect in the quality and length of some of the reviews. If you like what you see, please link to me to encourage more traffic through the site, and cross promote whatever is happening out there. Address for promotional material: 45 Drovers Walk Spring Park, Kingsthorpe Northampton NN2 8BB UK

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