The growing popularity of 'witch house' has brought a number of new, internet-based musicians to the forefront of modern synth music. Balam Acab, the project of young Pennsylvanian Alec Koone, has been one of the most talked-about artists representing the sub-genre. Shrouded in mystery, his music combines erratic synths, slow tempos, distorted vocals and atmospheric, natural sounds. ‘Wander/Wonder’ is Koone’s first full-length album, after the release of the acclaimed See Birds EP in August 2010.
It’s difficult to judge the album by its individual tracks. It feels almost wrong to listen to only one track then ignore the rest, this album sounds and feels more natural as a whole. Nearly all of the tracks revolve around the same structure, each one beginning with crackling noise and warped vocals, often building up to a deep bassline and stuttering drum beat. Each track blends together to essentially create a 37 minute lullaby, being separated only by a few seconds of silence each time. The silence fits perfectly, often complimenting the quiet, peaceful melodies.
The mystery surrounding Alec Koone and his music is part of what makes the album enthralling. With vague song titles, often consisting of only two syllables, it appears that the song’s focus and subject is open for interpretation. Although some might say the tracks on ‘Wander/Wonder’ don’t need interpretation, Koone is purely focusing on making beautiful, almost ethereal music.
Considering that Alec Koone is only at the age of 20, it’s impressive that he can produce such beautiful, haunting music that will encapsulate the listener from start to finish. If Balam Acab were to develop and progress with age, who knows what kind of direction he could take next.
By Calum Stephen