Suspending pensive lyrics amid piano cascades and lush violins, the atmospheric pop duo, Aquilo lives up to its TV-featured cinematic repertoire with its debut album ‘Silhouettes.’
Like aromatherapy, it penetrates tired muscles and soothes wondering souls, inspiring patience in moments of frustration. Unassuming in its choice of instrumentation, the interplay and production show mastery in puppeteering emotions. Like ocean waves, Aquilo choreographs rushing sentiments by layering sweeping vocals, creeping beats, and twinkling sounds–only to silence them dramatically with well-timed dynamics.
‘Silhouettes’ pinpoints the vague lingering feelings into strings of descriptions and direct observations. Such indulgently sincere and specific images could have compromised the soulful gravity. Instead, they complement the floating lushness, disarming the listener with a nostalgic tide.
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“How did you creep up on my blindside?” asks the second track ‘Blindside’ in much the same way a listener could. Each reverb, each note, each vibrato extends purposefully, elongating the yearning and triggering a response. This crafty musicality has lent soulfulness to TV shows such as ‘Vampire Diaries’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. Aquilo’s edgy but smooth sound also works well with the fluidity of figure skating, as its latest trilogy of music videos can attest to.
Still, the smooth nuanced quality of the music does not make it in any way complacent. The realistic words, as well as the rising music inspire courage in the face of discomfort and uncertainty. The duo, made up of Ben Fletcher and Tom Higham save the right amount of sassy attitude for a few of the songs like ‘Complicated’ which boasts a defiant bass flavor, or ‘Never Hurt Again,’ which features a melodic electronic dance beat.
Despite the variety in the individual songs, there is a sense of coherence throughout the album. This coherence is particularly impressive considering the album features collaborations from producers SOHN and Ólafur Arnalds. In part, this consistency is due to the aura of Deja Vu the music evokes. This familiarity is not simply due to recognizing their songs from their television soundtrack features. The music itself is familiar.
The minimalist, instrumental-style quality invites the listener to imprint his own memories and feelings onto the versatile canvas. This invitation to co-create is not aggressive or obvious. On the contrary: it is subtle and unforced. Like its song-track title implies, ‘Silhouettes’ is indeed ‘So close to magic.’