Manitou: All Points North
Slo.Bor Media

All Points North is the debut album by Detroit-native Manitou, and that's about all the personal detail that's currently available. No matter: it's the seventy-minute collection that counts and count it does. As song titles like “Just North of Eight Mile Road” and “Hart Plaza Rainstorm” intimate, Detroit is the life-blood that courses through the album and lends Manitou's music a clear sense of place. Whatever the inspiration, the album is full of pastoral and richly evocative ambient settings sure to appeal to fans of Windy and Carl and Stars of the Lid. Only one of the nineteen pieces exceeds eight minutes, with the rest in the three-minute vicinity, but the album works its magic cumulatively with each part a delectable part of a grand whole. Some songs, like “Windsor” and “Ice Cream at Soldiers and Sailors Monument” float past so gently, they're like spirits drifting through deserted houses; others, like “Snowy Night Riding the Peoplemover,” “We Enjoyed the Garden Square,” and “Things Are Different Now but the Street Signs Haven't Changed” are more austere and might best be described as meditative orchestral hymns. A mood of reflective melancholy colours “Remembering that Afternoon Downtown” while guitar playing dominates “I Wrote Your Name on the Davison Overpass,” pushing the album in the direction of ambient folk music. One might expect that a song titled “Watching the Hudson's Building Fall” would signal a marked increase in volume and intensity but, much like the others, the gloomy piece restrainedly rolls past like a foggy mass (ironically, the loudest piece is probably “Listening to Classical Music. Sipping Tea on your Veranda–Time Stood Still” where swooning tones escalate to a comparatively piercing blur). Sublime snapshots like “Campus Martius” and “Looking up Grand River , From Here All Points North” are both haunting and haunted but the description pretty much applies to this beautiful collection as a whole.

August 2007