A Name Writ in Water

The One AM Radio

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A Name Writ in Water Review

by Charles Spano

Hrishikesh Hirway's second full-length as the One AM Radio, A Name Writ in Water, is a warm, folky electro-acoustic album that evokes a sunnier, beachside Múm. The murky and disembodied sounds that float through these compositions give the impression of light refracting to the depths of a calm and peaceful ocean floor. Songs like "Drowsy Haze" are true to their titles in mood as well as lyrical content: "Drowsy haze of those summer days was deep in my lungs," Hirway sings on the breezy bedroom dream pop number. The Pacific Northwest coast, rusting memories, trips to the lake, glimmering city skylines, and the nostalgia of car trips are all themes that populate this earthy electronic record. Occasionally, Hirway works with stuttering beats -- as on "Shivers," for example. But in a curious fashion, Hirway is actually much more of a singer/songwriter than other likeminded bedroom electro-acoustic gurus like Four Tet or Manitoba, and he is at his strongest when he keeps the beats spare and organic, even simple. Of course, it's all of the live instrumentation that really sets the One AM Radio apart (and makes the Múm comparison so clear) -- from Hirway's gentle guitar picking to Jane Yakowitz' violin, Paul Findlen's upright bass, and Joseph Grimm's trumpet playing. Finally, production and mixing by avant hip-hop maestro Daedelus seems essential to A Name Writ in Water, providing an atmosphere similar to Daedelus' own recordings -- a thick, soft sound that makes the record much more lush than the similar work of a band like the Postal Service and perfectly suits the subtle boom-bip of a track like "Witness." All in all, a stunning follow-up to a great debut that should become a hallmark of folktronica along with Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children and Greg Davis' Curling Pond Woods.

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