On his Facebook artist page, Mike Wojniak lists Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, and Radiohead as influences. This might seem like an odd combination at first, but upon listening to Wojniak’s latest EP, it makes perfect sense. Welcome to Anima Mundi, a collection of four ethereal, folky tunes to supplement a Thoreau-esque outing or contemplative rainy day.
The EP is definitely more dreamy than Wojniak’s previous endeavors, vibing more woodland-rock like Iver’s material and decorating it with spacious, resonant melodies. “Tidal Wave” opens with synth that sounds like a royalty-free music track, with gentle digital chimes sprinkled throughout. It reminds one of Thrice’s Vol II: Water EP, wherein electronic sounds form the basis for the tracks. The song doesn’t waver too much, instead adhering to the pulsing backing track with a cavernous chorus and heartfelt, though typical, lyrics. Then there’s the opening “Stone and the Sea,” which begins with a guitar line straight from the Reign of Kindo’s back catalog. Wojniak’s woody vocals dance lightly over the calm beat and complement it nicely. His strength as a musician is in crafting stable, sensible songs that make for lovely background music.
Indeed, he is the musical embodiment of stable and sensible, almost to a flaw. “Stone” lapses into a chorus that feels like any Christian worship song, complete with mental images of people waving arms (or lighters, perhaps) and swaying. And, like (once again) Iver’s cotton-light numbers, Wojniak possesses a misty weightlessness not unlike the foam of a cappuccino. However, this cappuccino seems to be dry. There is a certain body that lacks in the EP; even “Oak Tree,” Wojniak’s strongest moment on the record, is lifted up by falsetto vocals and airy melodies. The music is perfect for a candlelit mood, but its lack of ballast proves to be a hefty drawback. Since this is Wojniak’s fourth release, it’s clear he’s not finding his feet, but instead venturing outward and onward. Like a pilgrim, Wojniak is in a certain place, however situational, and Anima Mundi reflects this near escapism. Try it with a cappuccino.