Switched On – numün: Book Of Beyond (Shimmy-Disc)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

numün have a rich musical pedigree. The trio are based in New York, and comprise Gamelan Dharma Swara‘s Joel Mellin and Christopher Romero and Bob Holmes of SUSS. Their first album in 2020, Voyage au Soleil, received wide acclaim for its marriage of a wide range of ambient musical forms.

The new record builds on the explorations made by Voyage au Soleil. Produced by Kramer, it includes a fusion of Eastern and Western musical stylings and instrumentation, listed on the press release to include Balinese gamelan, gender wayang, and cumbuz (a 12-string fretless banjo). These exist alongside the country and folk music-based instruments of slide guitar, baritone, mandolin and violin.

Adding to the musical pot are guest appearances from members of Brooklyn Raga Massive, Dharma Swara and Black Sea Hotel.

What’s the music like?

Trippy, in a good way!

Beyond sets out the colourful stall, with shimmering textures and pitches fluttering in harmony above the drone note. The open strings of the violin help present a rustic, outdoor picture. The following Steps picks up an easy, walking pace rhythm, led by guitar, and this same pace transfers to the lazy thrum of a mandolin for Sideways. Around the main melodic parts there are other hazy instrumental lines, complementing the rhythm while maintaining a heady atmosphere.

The use of bells on Eyes Open creates a richly coloured dream sequence which is sustained through Vespers, though here the colour comes from guitars and drones. The woozy Voices is like an aural mirage, shapes dancing on the horizon, while Lighter is led by softer flute tones. Arguably the most evocative track of all is left until last, the lower register of the violin providing velvety cushion as the lead for Lullaby.

Does it all work?

Yes – as a colourful musical backdrop rewarding different levels of Immersion on the part of the listener.

Is it recommended?

It is. Book Of Beyond staves off the winter chills with music of an appealing warmth, creating exotic pictures as it does so.


Spotify link tbc


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