Album Review: LDN Monos — August in Winter
LDN Monos is the moniker of London-based songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Neil Curtis. After gaining the attention of big music blogs and playlists with three excellent singles, the artist is releasing his debut album August in Winter.

The record's first single is First Exit, a rich layered tune with ghostly vocal samples, field-recorded ambience and tape hiss similar to Burial's. These elements are combined with unsquare percussive patterns, lonely and rainy harmonies and beautiful counterpoint melodies. The track has a lot going on, but it all happens so organically that you discover more and more details only after repeated listens.
Another standout track Samsara is also head-spinningly full of details: melodies, effects and samples of rare acoustic instruments. "My choice of sounds on the album is based on a love of Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern instruments. There's a ton of erhu, santur and yangqin samples," explains the artist. The vocals on the track sung in a Chinese dialect were chopped up and manipulated in a way that makes the words unintelligible and reduced to a melodic and textural element. The accompanying video features a beautiful performance of synchronized swimmers that works hypnotically with the track.
Second single East Heath and album cuts Down at the Bos and This Speed is Too Fast all have sections that the artist describes as "very warm and dream-like". He also notes that "most of the songs have a certain anxiety and aggression to them." These contrasting emotions guide the album's narrative that ends with "Days in the Lives of Others", the artist's favourite track on the album.

The song's four-to-the-floor beat, city ambience samples and the immediacy of the melody in the intro are a perfect expression of busy city life. LDN Monos describes the track as a meditation on "millions of people co-existing in a largely peaceful fashion just trying to get through their day without bringing harm to others". Its overwhelming nature along with its peaceful message are a perfect conclusion for the paradoxical album that's both introspective and vibrant, straightforward and detailed, serene and aggressive, beautifully old-fashioned and unforgivingly fresh-sounding.