Commenting upon ‘Romola’, his debut album, Keith Mannion AKA SlowPlaceLikeHome has stated that “every note is influenced by the scenic countryside on the Atlantic North West coast of Ireland”. If this is the case then Donegal has never sounded so alluring with the DJ’s first LP painting a very enticing picture of his home county.
This picture of Donegal is painted not through the medium of folk, so synonymous with the county, but through a mix of atmospheric synths, rumbling basslines and minimalist guitar and percussion. It all makes for a very eclectic mix with Mannion bouncing between a variety of sounds over the course of the album’s ten songs.
Coming In Colour Stereo is a bright blast of dream pop that sounds like M83 meets War On Drugs with Mannion’s laconic vocals playing over some swooping synths. At the other end of the spectrum, the title track Romola (part 1 & 2) leans on Massive Attack for influence; slick, soulful and bass heavy. It’s an instrumental that marks the standout point of the album’s first side though. Set Fire to the Stars is blissful and beautifully textured- chill out music at its finest.
The second half of the album is as strong as the first. Perfumed begins quietly, a mix of hypnotic, psychedelic synths and whispered vocals, before building into a shoegaze style wall of noise with guitars and drums crashing everywhere. The washed out, idyllic feel returns on Luna, another fine slice of electro pop that would sit nicely on an M83 album. On Romola we see even more shape-shifting with Mannion delivering the most upbeat track of the album. While not quite your proverbial “banger” this one still sounds huge and has that festival-ready feel to it. It’s juxtaposed nicely by the album’s final song, the beautifully hushed Cesares Principal which closes out the album in subtle, ambient fashion.
There has been a wealth of excellent electronic music released in Ireland over the past couple of years and this is up there with the very best of it. It may not feel that immediate upon first listen; it’s definitely a slow burner. Given time though it’s more than worth the effort. A serious contender for best Irish debut of 2014.