Made of Oak has a sound that those of you in tune with indie pop may recognize. Penumbra is the first solo release from one half of Sylvan Esso, producer Nick Sanborn. The EP was released in early November on Partisan Records, a Brooklyn based label. It’s a small taste of the more ethereal and glitchy side of Sanborn’s production style. Without the harmonic staccato of Amelia Meath’s voice Sanborn has more room to stretch and twist his beats. That’s not to say Sylvan Esso’s style doesn’t let Sanborn’s instrumentals breath, only that he has less of an obligation to keep things tangible and can really alter his sound.
This EP is sonically diverse, with tracks like single “Pinebender” reminding the listener of the heavy, consistent bass and catchy offbeats of Sylvan Esso, while tracks like “Penultra (When I See You)” pull acoustic sounds out of static and found sounds. One of the most beautiful features of Penumbra is that use of found sounds – Sanborn samples his own breath in most of the tracks, as well as what seems to be typewriter keys in the title track, and intelligible conversation in “Penultra (When I See You).”
Overall, a solid release with moments of true beauty. It’ll be exciting to see where else Nick Sanborn goes following the success of Sylvan Esso as well as the growing success of Made Of Oak.
Recommended If You Like: Sylvan Esso, Hundred Waters, Son Lux, Battles, Mount Kimbie
Recommended Tracks: Pinebender (2), Blue Zipper (5)