The LA-based artist makes sun-kissed ambient from surf rock samples.
From the first moments of "High Tide," you hear a slow-motion rush of spraying sea foam. Listen carefully and you might make out some voices from the band that Muir is sampling, but their meaning—and melody—has been lost to time, remade over and over like a patch of sand constantly smoothed over by waves. On the album's most captivating compositions, like "Shoal" or "Drifter," changing filters make it feel as if you're being submerged under the sea, water flooding your ears, and coming back up again.
Part of the appeal of Muir's work is how he smudges his samples until you can barely make them out. There's something that sounds like birdsong on "Shoal," while the shimmering leads on "Lapis Lazuli" could be guitar strums blurred into a sheen. The most dynamic tracks on Lady's Mantle have low-end sounds that almost rock with the steady beat of dub, like the slow trickle of "Peacock's Tail," which has the shadow of a rhythm in it. "Green Eyes" has something of a bassline hidden in its aquatic folds, and maybe even a chord progression. With just a bit more structure and a firm kick drum, this could be dub techno, but Muir holds firm, never disrupting his music's plangent drift.
Most of the time, Lady's Mantle casually coasts by, its more assertive elements washing over you. By the time you reach its bobbing final stretch, it's easy to forget the surf rock band at the heart of it all—that's just another source of sound to be shaped into gossamer layers and polished into opalescent surfaces like the shiny stone on the album's cover.