Pianos echo, and its hard to know what is being played and what is reverberating back into your ears. Am I listening to ten pianists playing in perfect adjusted synchronicity? Or am I standing at the edge of a cave with a grand piano just around the corner listening moments after, as the sound waves reach me? These are the questions that come to mind when listening to Bing & Ruth.
The latest project of David Moore, No Home of the Mind has a singular focus reminiscent of Max Richter or solo Brian Eno works. While Richter doesn’t fit into the ambient category, or the classical one, or really any one, this record straddles genres like having a limb in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado at Four Corners. Bing & Ruth represents the perfect mix of background music, but also active listening, but also room or space wallpaper music, but also homework music. Its utilitarian as well as beautiful.
The first track “Starwood Choker” circles around you like a slow motion tornado, never really building to anything, never feeling like it needs to go anywhere. “As Much As Possible” has an infancy to it, the offbeat tempo, evoking Radiohead and probability at once. “Scrapes” spreads a wide net under an ocean of unrealized tension. The song moves and changes like a random ambient song, but is much more purposeful. It too reflects Thom Yorke’s unique melodic tastes and time signature choices.
Every song doesn’t sound the same, though. The guitar movement on “Is Drop” builds a Trent Reznor-esque momentum without the industrial overtones. The ghostlike sounds on the edges of “Form Takes” are haunting. Most of Bing & Ruth’s songs are like looking into a kaleidoscope, things flex and grow and ploy and ultimately one thing stays the same – change. The keyboards hit like rhythmic rain hitting the strings at the tops and bottoms and middles, so much tonal control on an instrument with so few creative angles left unsearched.
The open concept of “To All It” is reminiscent of a Sigur Ros intro, but instead of turning grandiose it turns inward, aware of its own self-imposed limitations, an echo of a song, rather than a true song in itself. What is a song? Do ambient and/or classical records contain songs? Or tracks? Or movements? Do the names matter?
A conservative ambient fan would be pressed to describe this as ambient, but it is. It may not fit the descriptors as Brian Eno carved them into the 1970’s clouds, but it is mood music, it is calm, it is slow, it is music better described in the space it occupies and the feelings it evokes than the words it says and even the genre it is. There’s a lot of discussion on what exactly is ambient music, and I’ll tell you in my opinion — its spatial music. And No Home of the Mind fits the bill as the best ambient record so far in 2017. B PLUS