Jonas Munk‘s pseudonym’s may have changed over the years, but there will always be one that hits home with me. From his work with Ulrich Schnauss on ‘Epic’ in 2010, to his more dreamy ambient guise as Billow Observatory (along with Jason Kolb of Auburn Lull), it was his work as Manual that I first fell in love with back in 2001.
His guitar-laden, summer washes have graced numerous releases on Darla, Morr Music and Make Mine Music, and with an elusive discography that’s pretty hard to track down (I was so grateful to find a copy of ‘Until Tomorrow‘ in a record store in Seattle recently) i’ve been frustrated and beaten to hear new (but old) tracks pop up out of nowhere every now and then. Take “Miraparque” for example – previously only released on this limited edition CD alongside Orange Crush back in 2008, it was Milieu that teased me with this track on his isolatedmix back in 2009 and it’s remained elusive ever since.
Take Manual’s remix of City Of Satellites‘ “Skeletons” – easy to overlook yet thoroughly deserving a release of its own; an absolutely beautiful track that defines the very meaning of shoegaze. Or ‘Camellia’ – a seventeen minute expanse of gentle guitars alongside an early 80’s vibe akin to Art of Noise.
This isn’t just an attempt to round-up a bunch of unreleased tracks either. The compilation is perfectly curated with more open-aired guitars and vocals upfront, slowly descending into Jonas’ more ambient works on Disc 2 – a likely introduction to his approach within Billow Observatory, should this be new to you.
This feels like a very-much needed and perfect journey through Manual’s expansive catalogue – I’ve often wondered why he hasn’t gotten more attention, and this release is proof that his work as Manual was an extensive and beautiful labor of love across the decade, and one that needs to be heard far and wide.