July 2015 Short Reviews (Dirk Serries & Rutger Zuydervelt, Richard Moult, Andrew Weathers Ensemble)

Dirk Ser­ries & Rut­ger Zuy­derveltBuoy­ant (2015, Con­soul­ing Sounds)

This is one of those col­lab­or­a­tions that was bound to hap­pen at one point: two of the Low Coun­tries’ fore­most ambi­ent artists hit­ting it off together on an album. Ser­ries’ wavy and some­times crunchy approach is off­set by Zuy­dervelt’s tend­ency towards warp­ing and choppy struc­ture. How­ever, most of the time their approaches merge seam­lessly and I can’t tell who is doing what. Clearly this is a good thing in this case, as they achieve a sound that is rather apart from their solo works.

The Whis­per­ing Scale”, as show­cased in May’s second Cloud­scape, is a case in point. A warmth, gradu­ally rising over more than ten minutes, grow­ing a subtle heart­beat, and trans­form­ing into a sub­lime con­crete loop at the end. The open­ing track sees the two artists gently align­ing each oth­er’s sounds, though the res­ult has an inter­est­ing ten­sion: like bur­lap rub­bing against vel­vet.

On the whole, Buoy­ant is a pleas­ant, airy affair. It is not too sur­pris­ing if you’re famil­iar with either artist’s earlier work, per­haps, but it does cer­tainly show­case their skill at cre­at­ing well-flow­ing tracks with tons of inter­est­ing details.

Richard MoultLast Night I Dreamt of Hib­ri­ht­eselle (2015, Wild Silence)

After quite a few years and albums of mostly instru­mental music, Richard Moult flies back towards a format explored in 2005’s The Secret Joy: the song cycle. Those years have surely flown by… but I digress. The approach in that earlier album — piano and clas­sical voice — was tra­di­tional, in a way, although Moult’s piano melod­ies have always had some­thing uncanny. Here, he aban­dons most con­nec­tions to a clas­sical approach, and weds his com­pos­i­tions and (again mostly) Mary Webb’s poems to an ensemble of vari­ous sing­ers, some untrained. He also opts for elec­tronic key­boards over acous­tic instru­ments, except for the occa­sional guest appear­ance: Áine O’D­wyer is in excel­lent form in her harp con­tri­bu­tion to “The Bramble Patch”.

Last Night pos­sesses a strange bril­liance. The voices are diverse, more at home out in the fields than in an aud­it­or­ium. The key­boards make no attempt to sound un-key­board-like, thereby fully embra­cing their own sound. The com­pos­i­tions fly wild, but there is a sure voice in there. I have incred­ible dif­fi­culties put­ting into words what is going on on this album, but with each listen I am more sure that Moult has found a new way to inter­weave vari­ous musical tra­di­tions — from clas­sical to folk to pop — that together sound not like they’ve emerged from a par­tic­u­lar place, but are blown in over the Atlantic from bey­ond the mists of time. If this sounds inscrut­able, well, so does the album.

Andrew Weath­ers EnsembleFuck Every­body, You Can Do Any­thing (2015, Full Spec­trum)

Amer­ic­ana with auto­t­une. It sounds like a gim­mick until you hear it. On Fuck Every­body, Weath­ers puts a con­tem­por­ary twist on essen­tially romantic music. There’s still plenty of Amer­ican folk­lore and land­scape in here, but infused with a here-and-now aes­thetic. It’s music that harkens back, but not neces­sar­ily to the past; more like a spec­trum of cur­rent Amer­icas.

The album is rather ambi­ent in nature, free-flow­ing and weird at times, and not tra­di­tion­ally song-based, although ele­ments of songs are woven into the music as a whole. While the vocals do draw atten­tion, there are beau­ti­ful band arrange­ments in these songs. Andrew Weath­ers solo is mostly guitar/banjo, but here he really did bring his Ensemble, with vari­ous wood­winds, strings, brass, and elec­tronic con­tri­bu­tions from a guest roster 15 heads strong.

Fuck Every­body came as a sur­prise, but a beau­ti­ful one. Great tunes for a long, hazy sum­mer.