The genre of modern classical may be getting a slightly crowded place to be these days but albums like No Home Of The Mind by Bing & Ruth prove that, pleasingly, there’s still plenty of directions for the music to expand into and ideas still to investigate. Actually, categorising them in this way might not be strictly fair – on this latest album they build on the minimalism found on earlier releases and add in new elements to deliver their most successful piece of work to date.
Tonight’s gig at LSO St. Luke’s sees the album dominate the set, band leader, composer and pianist David Moore being joined by an ensemble playing double bass, clarinet and electronics. Together, they exert a balancing presence against the modern classical minimalism, bringing slow, softly engulfing drones to the equation.
Support comes from Tom Rogerson, usually the frontman of Three Trapped Tigers, but tonight playing a brief set of improvisations from forthcoming album Failing Shore, a collaboration with Brian Eno. He makes an unassuming entry and as he settles behind the keyboard initial feeling is that we’re in for some extended Nils Frahm-esque solo piano-like pieces but his short set proves far more wider ranging, ambient but with substance and darker leanings and changing focuses. Complexity grows out of simplicity, drawing us in. It’s a shame he doesn’t have more time to play.
At times No Home Of The Mind by Bing & Ruth seems to present itself as a journey of the piano through dark, subdued terrain. The opening piano clusters of Starwoord Choker get wrapped up in the sounds of the doubles basses and clarinet, forming a cohesive entity and setting the mood for the rest of the evening.
As Much As Possible is the first moment where Moore’s piano playing assumes prominence, taking soothing, tentative footsteps forward on its own. It has an Olivier Messiaen/Arvo Pärt-like gravity to it and is the first of several exquisitely beautiful moments tonight. Chonchos slides into more primordial, opaque territory before The How Of It Sped emerges from it gracefully like a spotlit ballerina, plotting a clear, defined path through blurry, snowy surroundings. Is Drop has a genuinely exploratory feel while Form Takes sees piano arpeggios return before once again dissolving into the greater whole.
The pace of the piano sequences decreases on To All It, exposing the softness of touch and tenderness of feeling in tonight’s performance. It makes us think that if post-rock/ambient pioneers Labradford still arranged their ‘festival of drifting’ Bing & Ruth would be one of the first names on the bill alongside the likes of kindred spirits A Winged Victory For The Sullen. As we leave we’re left to consider that No Home Of The Mind may ultimately prove to be one of 2017’s most rewarding releases – what could not be doubted was that tonight’s show was a quiet triumph.