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AAA Music | 18 August 2019

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Umber – Morning’s Pass Released 27th June 2011

| On 17, Jun 2011

There’s little other way of describing Umber’s music apart from ‘unbelievably beautiful’. (This is Fake DIY)

As an ambient record, umber’s debut mini-album, Morning’s Pass, acts as the perfect encapsulation of dawn: from the first change of colour in the night’s sky, to the hazy mist of a summer’s morning. But as an ambient record, it also delivers an intense atmosphere of emotions: the sedated lullaby of sleepy eyes, the discovery of a new world, and the final triumph of daybreak over darkness.

Umber is the intricate, multi-instrumental world of just one musician, Alex Steward. His life in a sleepy village in the heart of the English countryside, combined with the cocoon-like studio of his bedroom, imbues Morning’s Pass with its wonderful dreamlike qualities. The inspiration of several genres can be heard – post-rock, drone, folk, and of course, ambient – but Alex resists a reliance on any one of these. Instead, with ease, he adopts their various elements as embellishments, layering acoustic guitar, piano, and electronica to create an ethereal, yet natural-sounding, record.

Morning’s Pass resists the cliché of instrumental builds by mirroring the very sensation of the sun rising. Rather than developing in loudness, Alex subtly encourages then winds down the music – just as dawn signals the arrival of day, but also the gentle recession of the night. As a result, the listener is happily suspended in an intoxicating and immersive experience, hovering in mist-covered horizon normally only witnessed by the early-risers.