Surreal melodies weave their way throughout the poignant dream pop of Daniel Angelus’s “Act II”. The sound has an incredible richness to it utilizing a wide slew of styles to create a universe that feels distinctly his own. Genre-wise he frames the whole album within a careful poppy framework, while elements of shoegaze, EDM, ambient, drone, and slowcore filter into the otherworldly mix. By far though the true heart and soul of the album comes from his incredible vocals. Warm, welcoming, and reassuring there is an incredible passion behind his delivery. Lyrics have a half-remembered dream quality to them for he proves to explore mood with the greatest of ease.
The slew of references abounds throughout the whole of the album. With his careful patient tempos, he touches upon Beach House’s deliberate, lovely arrangements. His insistence upon a gigantic, sweeping sound also draws from their majestic grace. On the sheer wall of sound approach, he occasionally brings up imagery of Slowdive’s kaleidoscopic patterns. Such a swirling, all-encompassing tact the pieces feel so luxurious. Elements of the sound incorporate unusual electronic percussion and unique aural universes, bringing some of Oneohtrix Point Never’s playful experimentation into the fray, as the experience is one of pure wonder.
Gigantic in its lumbering approach “I Am Dead Inside” echoes off into an unknowably vast space. Nimble percussion underpins the hypnotic mantra of “Sertraline” with sounds wafting up into the sky, as his vocals are pristine throughout. The buildup in particular has a satisfying, almost post-rock like crescendo. Injecting his own soulful affect into U2’s classic “With or Without You” the song adapts the yearning of the original and gives it an even more intimate, tender approach. Quite ambitious with its epic sprawl the classically-inspired brilliance of “You Will be the Death of Me” serves as the highlight of the album. Incredible to witness he deftly lets the symphonic scope of the track grow.
“Live Famous Die” allows a yellowed nostalgia into the mix. With nods towards a late 80s cinematic scope, the piece has a lush, dense quality to it. Deep in “Neon and Gold” Daniel Angelus offers a deeply felt resonance. One the catchiest tracks on the entire album comes from the gentle waves of “Kiss Me Out of the Blue”. Urgent tempos intermingle on the clear-eyed focus of “Artificial” where the Oneohtrix Point Never influence is particularly strong. Ending things on a high note is the modern mixture of pop with Gregorian chant of “Rapture (feat. Amii Dawes)”.
“Act II” proves to be one of those rare, timeless albums, showing off Daniel Angelus’s tasteful, stately sound whose memory lingers in the mind.