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Absent Without Leave - Faded Photographs

  by Jon Rogers

published: 2 / 3 / 2011

Absent Without Leave - Faded Photographs
Label: Sound in Silence
Format: CD


Atmospheric, but out of time debut album from rural-influenced ambient act Absent Without Leave

Absent Without Leave is really the creation of Greek-born George Mastrokostas – largely from the comfort of his home-studio – and delves into the atmospheric world of ambient mood music. For someone who is a resident of the Greek capital Athens, Absent Without Leave certainly has a concern and love of the natural world. ‘Faded Photographs’ is all rural rather than urban, conjuring up woodland and forests rather than the busy streets of a capital city. Although it is music AWL has a strong visual sense to it as songs like the closing ‘Above the Trees’ put the listener right in the heart of things. Or you can imagine some clip from the album turning up on some BBC series like ‘Coast’ where the aerial shot pans across some headland. The other big theme for AWL is that sense of time passing as well as returning, which is tied in with the interest in the natural world. That feeling of time moving on in tracks like ‘Old Memory Tapes’ (no doubt with a heavy nod to Samuel Beckett there), ‘Dreams and Hopes’ and the title track itself. And with the passing of the seasons, that sense of cyclical renewal, of things changing but also staying the same is ever-present. The problems of ‘Faded Photographs’ are not necessarily specific to the album itself, more to the whole genre of ambient mood music. It excels at conjuring up distinct images and atmospheres and does that beautifully, but there is always that nagging sense of ‘is that it?’ Once the music stops, the moment is gone and very little lingers. As well the genre as a whole is completely disjointed from its socio-political situation; it is music created in a vacuum. In recent months Greece has seen violent protests on its streets due to the country’s severe economic crisis and austere budget cuts. Only recently around 100,000 protesters marched on parliament, lobbing petrol bombs and smashing up a few buildings and property. Basically the country is in turmoil and has been so for several months. Yet Absent Without Leave’s response is a nice, gentle album akin to a nice walk in the park. ‘Faded Photographs’ sounds out of touch and out of time.

Track Listing:-
1 How The Winter Comes
2 Old Memory Tapes
3 Dreams And Hopes
4 Faded Photographs
5 Balloons In The Sky
6 Where The Birds Fly In Winter
7 Daydream Lullaby
8 Above The Trees

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