It’s been ten years since Boa Morte last released an album but they’ve returned from their long hiatus with a gorgeous alt-folk long player that is packed with atmospheric and highly polished character.

Boa Morte were formed in Cork in 1998 and have certainly led an interesting and somewhat tumultuous existence since the eventual release of their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Soon It Will Come Time to Face the World Outside’ in 2002. Their follow up ‘The Dial Up’ came a mere seven years later, following tours with the likes of Teenage Fan Club and Calexico.

‘Before There Was Air’ might only be the band’s third album in two decades, but it has been well worth the wait. It’s a record that is imbued with a slow-burning, ambient atmosphere that delivers an audio experience that envelopes with a smooth warmth. Earlier this year we were treated to the superb fifth album from A Lazarus Soul and with ‘Before There Was Air’ Boa Morte have delivered what could well be described as a Leeside companionpiece to that fine opus.

Production duties were performed by the hugely talented James Darkin and he brings his trademark atmospheric elements to bear without swamping the polished Boa Morte musicianship, creating a record that feels both grounded and unearthly at the same time. The album was recorded last year at Herbert Place Studios where Darkin installed the band in the same room with their mics opened wide. After this “live” recording each track has been instilled with layers of synth, piano, strings and various elements, carefully added to create a highly distinctive compositional and textured sound.

Whilst the high-points include the album opener A Sound, Ships Passing, and Stones/Stone by Stone in reality this is a work that rewards the listener who submerges themselves fully, rather than dip in and out of this well of distinctive, tuneful avant-folk.

It might have been nearly ten years in the making but with ‘Before There Was Air’ Boa Morte have produced a majestic, mood-laden alternative folk soundtrack, perfect for the strange times we live in.