If electric guitar did ambient
C Diab has wandered around the landscapes of ambient and minimal music for years but nothing has every quite grasped my imagination and attention as his new album ‘White Whale’. It sits musically in at a fantastic crossroads. It is ambient. It is post rock. It is cinematic musical themes and epic soundscapes. ‘White Whale’ is all these things and more and its the album that has made me click with C Diab’s music.
The key to this across the eleven tracks is how C Diab uses a guitar. For many tracks, such as ‘Street Scenes’ or ’90’s kid’ for example, there is a chugging layer of electric guitar. It noodles away moving around loops or chords providing the bassline and initial melody. Then C Diab uses a bowed guitar like an aggressive electric violin over the top. It holds a similar space as violin or cello in classical music but sounds like it could also be placed in a guitar solo in a prog-rock band.
As it sounds like both combined, each song uses it to its advantage. Sometimes it is a yawning distant moan like in ‘Cubensis Yellow Fire’ which feels more meditative alongside deep resonant organs. ‘Stares Across’ errs on the classical side with a regal and restrained arrangement whilst ‘Infernal District’ is far more urgent. Its mixture of bowed guitar and pulsating synths creates a throbbing drive that thrusts the music ever forward. Other tracks like ‘Haunter’ or ‘100 Famous Views’ fit into the post-rock elements of the album. Here guitars buzz, trickle and occasionally roar at you although the general mood is one of grace – even when the music gets loud.
‘White Whale’ is going to a great mood album. The echoing guitars feel both graceful and vast whilst also sounding gritty and deep – like you are falling into a void. This album is for moments of contemplation, for racing minds and hearts. It will also strike a chord with the shoegazers, the post-rock lovers and the epic film score lovers too. It hits that crossroads squarely on the forehead and lands a knockout musical 1-2 punch.
Recommended track: Street Scenes
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