Recording information: Chicago Cultural Center (09/26/2007); The Troubadour, Los Angeles (09/26/2007); Chicago Cultural Center (10/05/2007); The Troubadour, Los Angeles (10/05/2007).
Denmark's Jonas Munk, who records under the name Manual, makes expansive sonic landscapes infused with the sound of real instruments (guitar, bass, piano) and the textured colorations of digital trickery. Whereas many electronic artists are concerned with fractured beats and deconstructive process, Munk leans toward the ambient side of the spectrum, layering his instruments in thick sheets over programmed, downtempo beats and atmospheric laptop flourishes.
Interestingly, while Munk is clearly concerned with making emotive headphone music (note the opener "Clear Skies Above the Coastline Cathedral," and the delicate "Tourmaline"), he is also influenced by rock. "Summer of Freedom," for example, has a pulsing beat that vaguely recalls U2, and features a distorted guitar drone reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. In fact, Munk shares a sensibility with rock-influenced electronica acts like M83, a kinship evident in both the stylistic elements of his music and in his muscle-y, full-contact approach to instrumental ambient music. For this reason, AZURE VISTA does not make the best quiet background music, yet it is likely to please fans of adventurous ambient and experimental rock.