After Bear vs. Larger Bear (his first band under, among others, Death Cab For Cutie / Appleseed Cast influences), next solo as Sun Cancelled (something like an intimate ethereal version of Owen), then again in a four people band, Khale, and finally as Mombi, each new release by Kael Smith, solidly paired with Matt Heron since Khale, is a new transformation and erase the past like chalk on a blackboard, leaving just traces before redrawing the frame.
"The Wounded Beat" is the work of three years, and of high sophistication exigencies. The songs have been worked and reworked again, until the limit.
If you dig, you might find certain "eighties" similarities with artists such as Bark Psychosis, Blue Nile, Talk Talk or David Sylvian, but never in an obvious manner, just with this sense of substance and refinement. The fact this record was recorded and mixed by Keith (Helios, Goldmund) Kenniff is not a surprise, as his presence if felt through the smoothness and the lack of asperities. Other meaningful influences would be Labradford, limited as a background utilization, or Slowdive but without their sense of dynamism.
It's an impressive work of conception, composition and production all the elements each elements have been weighed up with precision and attention, but they never cross limits of exploration towards experimentation and more dangerous areas.
What's new is how Mombi combines various elements into songs as a compressed anamorphosis, even if the truly nature of each part is classic, without excess. You'll listen to this record like sitting in a comfortable sofa, in an air-conditioned area with subdued lighting and available soft drinks, or while having a warm bath after a tiring day.
I guess I would have wished more degrees of freedom, something sometimes more accidental or spontaneous, but these processes of magnification can also result into pleasant surprises.
Only eight tracks for 31 minutes, "The Wounded Beat" is a short but dense album which is at times, suffocating ("Monsoon"), vaporous and rainy ("Time Goes"), dark and haunting ('The Misunderstanding"), warm and comforting like the reddening lights of dusk ("More Coal For The Miners And More Meals To Be Given Out").
There are a few gems, "Glowing Beatdown" which unfolds slowly with a nice acoustic guitar in the forefront, giving intimacy and shivers, the wonderful slowcore influenced "Cascade Cliffs (Looking Down)" which certainly owes more than a whisper to bands like Early Day Miners, Talk Talk or Hood, the icy atmosphere and the early morning lights of a glowing sunrise with "Fort", or the reflexive and introspective "A General Map of Love".