THOMAS BEL: Innerly (Annexia Records)


Posted on May 4th 2012 01:33 am

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Thomas Bel: Innerly

Annexia Records 2012
12 Tracks. 55mins31secs

Thomas Bel was born, as he informs us on his website, in autumn. Could it be that it had such a strong influence on his whole persona that it would transpires through his work to this day? Whether this is indeed the case or pure coincidence, his music is at best dark, introspective and cinematic, in an oddly oppressive way. Musician, sound artist, poet and all-round dreamer, Thomas Bel hails from Toulouse, south of France, where he regularly plays live. Although essentially electronic-based, his music also incorporates acoustic elements (cello, guitar, piano), and field recordings, over which he occasionally adds vocals.

Released over three years on from his debut album, The Birds Are Still The Monarchs, and following a handful of self-released recordings, Innerly continues on a similar path to its predecessor, its sprawling gothic soundscapes casting dark toxic shadows over the whole record. Originally inspired by Bel’s fervent reading of the work of twentieth century German poet and writer Johannes Bobrowski, this album is, as its title indicates, particularly introspective and contemplative. At times reminiscent of the ambiences found on Miasmah, Bel builds extremely desolate pieces, often from no more than a handful of sound sources, which are then worked on until they blend in to form a consistent, at times surprisingly dense, whole.

There is, running through the whole record, a certain lyrical progression which binds it all together and establishes some sort of natural flow from one end of the record to the other. Alternating between stark instrumentals and vocal pieces, Bel keeps things stripped down to the point where his vocal contributions, neither sang not spoken, always fragile and shaky, are, for the most part, barely audible, the meaning of his words lost amidst layers of decaying soundscapes. All remains is a vague feeling that something has happened without being able to fully understand what exactly, and what consequence it may have. The voice is, here, treated almost as a components amongst others, and serves solely to alter the mood of the moment. His instrumental pieces are equally as ethereal, acoustic and electronic components blending into gloomy sonic vignettes upon which crackles and statics add texture.

Innerly is a somewhat enigmatic record, which never seem to reveal its entire reach at any one time. Dense yet minimal, electronic yet sounding textural and acoustic, it is a piece of work in which to wander and get lost to truly appreciate its intrinsic beauty.


Thomas Bel | Annexia Records

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