Modeling Release Debut Album, Somewhere Before

When creating something that is more ambient in nature it can be a tough pill to swallow and often hard to find the proper audience. To the casual listener it may seem like just noise, but to the trained ear it can create an atmospheric form of expression. Somewhere Before, the debut release from Modeling, does well to create an ambience worth listening to.

The album opens with its title track, “Somewhere Before” which does a fine job creating an atmospheric sound, but at the same time there are some elements that seem a bit out of place and push the boundary of distracting away from the core of the track. “Lodestone” follows and is one of only four tracks that contain any vocals. While the vocals are not bad by any means they seem to take away from the ambient element that is so elegantly displayed on the album. The vocals don’t come to light until the two minute mark (on a seven minute track), but had the track ended at the two minute mark would have been fine as well.

“Low Fantasy” continues the synth laden ambiance and manages to keep you engaged over the course of it’s somewhat lengthy run time. It does fade in and out some, but that only adds to the character of the track as a whole. “Nothing Unexpected” (another seven minute track) kicks in and instantly feels like something taken straight from the 80s (or I’ve just been watching a lot of Stranger Things and the 80s are in the forefront of my mind). The track also contains vocals as well, but this time around they don’t feel too out of place. “Drifting” slides things back to the instrumental atmosphere and gives a nice calming effect after the more upbeat “Nothing Unexpected.”

“Until It Ends” puts this back in an 80s vibe, but adds an element of something that could easily be found in an old Nintendo game. Again, we have vocals in the mix (seems to be an every other track thing) and they continue to fit well here with the combined elements already in place on the track. “Remnants” is another instrumental track that doesn’t seem to know where it wants to fit. While the sounds is lush and full it contains elements that make it feel abrupt and borderline unpleasant. The album closes with “In Creases” which is the longest track on the album at almost nine minutes. It has a slow build that it uses to it’s advantage given the overall length. We get another solid vocal enhancement on this one, but the vocals almost seem robotic this time. It’s obviously an intentional production tactic and it works well as things come to a close.

Overall Somewhere Before feels more like it should have been the score to an indie film set in the mid to late 80s. Is that a bad thing? Not completely, but it might take some time for the instrumental tracks to really connect to the average listener. If atmospheric ambiance is your thing then this is an album you need to check out.

Somewhere Before is available now on all major streaming platforms or you can purchase a physical copy (CD, cassette or vinyl) via the band’s Bandcamp page.

Second Opinion: I, Ryan, was first turned onto Modeling a few years back via a submission to Steadfast Festival. As someone who’s a big fan of M83, Modeling actually predated my dive into a synthwave love with bands like The Midnight. So, the presence of vocals actually works well for me. The album definitely has a deliberate flow to it, and “Lodestone,” and early single I’ve discussed on this site before, is a highlight. For me, this isn’t an album of power as much as it is an album to zone out to perhaps with an 80s indie film or a night drive, punctuated by moments of bright joy.

Modeling – “Drifting” Home Video

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