“To listen to ‘Close‘ is to enter a world where neoclassical, ambient, and post-rock elements are intertwined, infused with Scandinavian character, and ornamented with eclectic sonic flourishes. While the same could be said of the music of Row Boat, the new record marks a noticeable shift toward modern classical elements and cinematic flair as the ambient & post-rock atmospherics are employed much more sparingly. In addition, Wardale demonstrates his growing compositional prowess by weaving a cohesive tale in which the narrative of each track supports a greater one that flows through the entire album.” - Brian Housman, Stationary Travels
“Close,” by Mark Wardale (aka Row Boat) carries us on a dramatic journey overseeing a frozen paradise.
With the first track, “Byrja,” we begin by taking our first careful steps upon stairs of piano keys, then climb violin strings to board our horned ship of brass.
While riding the skies upon, “Veðráttufarsríma,” we hear our guide sing the lost story of our vessel in a voice both clear and waning.
We descend to the shores where the stoic tides are interrupted by, “Pebbles,” and surrender to the entropy of, “Óreiða.”
Our voyage ends with us wrapped in the gentle, “Sails,” that just moments before harnessed the full force of the arctic wind.
The musical craft that is the album, “Close,” gives us the perfect vantage point from which to view this world of clashing extremes and hushed tranquility. We experience swimming up waterfalls and climb mountains made of water. We build sandcastles of ash and study the light of prisms through the dark.
Wardale has crafted a narrative score that, like the voices of the unseen elves, charms and bewitches the listener and leads her to a magical world of chill beauty.
What I've written about Dino Olivieri's movie soundtrack "La bambina del lago" is true for this theatrical soundtrack, too: You don't need to see the play it's written for in order to enjoy the music. Those who are into lush vintage synthwave sounds with catchy melodies and great chords will find plenty of that in these 41 minutes of diligently composed music. The tracks are quite diverse, reflecting the threads of play they are intended for, and reading the track titles while listening, one can easily imagine the action before the mind's eye. Sven B. Schreiber