Mono is Simeon Walker’s first album, released a year after his debut EP Preface with Swedish label 1631. The Leeds based composer is known for his multiple collaborations—including Portmanteau, Bruno Merz Band, Hunting Bears and Cottonwoolf—but it is as a solo artist that Walker presents us this soundtrack for winter.
For his favourite season of the year, the composer brings us a selection of warm music, bearing a sense of spontaneity due to Walker’s creative process which is partially based on improvisation. Mono carries melancholy—with Lilt, or Turn and its melody that echoes the morning light slowly making its way through the day—, and reflects the time that passes—Lull. There is an impression of absence and space—Drift and Hush—, and a sensation that the time has stopped—Froze. Beautiful melodies emerge from Mono—such as the ones in Breathe or Coda—as well as wonderfully composed pieces—Letters.
Walker cites Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds or Peter Broderick as influences, but it is surprisingly the Bon Iver heritage that seems to reflect the most in Walker’s release. Through ingenious recording techniques, Walker has been able to achieve a sense of intimacy and warmth on the piano. The sonic imperfections, the DIY quality that surround Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago are present in Mono. The similarities with Bon Iver’s universe come as close as to having Gregory Euclide—who is responsible for some of the groups artworks, as well as some of Lubomyr Melnyk’s—design the frosting artwork of Mono.
There is flamboyant and dynamic music that brings you a sense of self-confidence and energy, and there is humble and delicate music that comforts you. If Mono—one of my favourite this past year—belongs to the latter, it is through a number of beautiful and peaceful pieces, an elegant ode to winter.