Album Reviews

Bing & Ruth – Species

(4AD) UK release date: 17 July 2020

Bing & Ruth - Species David Moore’s music under the Bing & Ruth alias has to date been positioned largely in the same space as the likes of A Winged Victory For The Sullen, Haushcka & William Basinski in blending elements of classical, ambient and drone to hypnotic effect. Moore’s last album was 2017’s No Home Of The Mind, a collection of pieces defined by subdued, melancholic piano. It successfully built upon earlier albums City Lake and Tomorrow Was The Golden Age, which at times felt closer to the likes of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. If these albums sometimes seemed to present their music through frosted windows, No Home Of The Mind felt like it brought more in the way of clarity and definition.

This journey continues on fourth album Species, with Moore going further in terms of moving his music into a new space. The difference is largely due to his decision to base the album around the warm, buzzy drones of the Farfisa organ. Many of the characteristics of his music are still here – contemplation, stillness, poignancy – but the way in which they are coloured on Species makes it stand apart from its predecessors

Moore recently spoke about how he wanted to explore how the concept of trance can affect humans and it’s clear from the beginning that Species is very well-suited for this purpose. Another point he made was how he found himself spending more time considering how the music on Species would sound when performed live, something he hadn’t done on earlier albums. You get the feeling that an environment similar to that of Liminal, the show featuring Jónsi, Alex Somers and Paul Corley at the 2018 Meltdown Festival, would be appropriate – mats positioned on the floor for people to lie on, carefully positioned candles the only source of light and a suitably peaceful atmosphere existing in which to slowly take in the music.

Opening piece Body In A Room introduces the long, extended tones that gently plateau and oscillate over the course of the full album. As it unfurls, there are sections where patterns form, but other parts where certain chord progressions don’t follow obvious paths. It might be for this reason that the album takes a couple of listens to fully establish itself, as if the listener is being made to commit before rewards are forthcoming. But, come they do.

I Had No Dream sees long term Bing & Ruth contributors Jeremy Viner and Jeff Ratner add clarinet and double bass but the overall aesthetic remains consistent and it’s a point that also applies to the impressionistic, ambient washes of Blood Harmony. Live Forever is the key track on the record, 13 minutes of deep, considered reflection that elevates the album to something special. It could easily be twice as long and work just as well, very much one of those moments where it feels like time is standing still. Its inner peace and gentle power brings to mind Jóhann Jóhannsson’s 2004 album Virðulegu Forsetar and The Pressure Of This Water follows in a similar vein, tones and pulses giving rise to a real sense of beauty and life.

Species is an album to inhabit, an album where getting to know every stretch and every detail is important. Bing & Ruth have always provided poignant and moving listening experiences, but Species takes a different turn, and fully reaps the benefits.

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Bing & Ruth – Species
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