reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Species is the fourth album from Bing & Ruth, the New York-based project where the ever-present is David Moore. Previous album No Home Of The Mind was largely powered by flowing piano textures, but this time around the outlook is very different. As the cover art implies, the album was made in a hotter, drier climate, and this is reflected in the instrumentation. Moore wrote the music on a Farfisa organ, hooking up with friends playing clarinet (Jeremy Viner) and acoustic bass (Jeff Ratner).
What’s the music like?
This incarnation of Bing & Ruth feels more static than the previous model in terms of its harmonic and melodic movement. Yet it is every bit as compelling, and tracking the development of each track is a little like listening to the earlier Philip Glass of the Dance Pieces.
The colours are immediately appealing as Body in a Room and Badwater Psalm reveal. Time seems suspended in space as compact figures and loops oscillate on the Farfisa, spreading out over long, held pedal notes that support the framework. Moore sets out this deceptively simple material in a way that works really well, bringing out different and intriguing phasing effects from the mellow tones of the organ that prove very pleasing to the ear.
I Had No Dream emits a brighter light as Moore moves to the instrument’s upper register, but in response the short Blood Harmony gives out mellow, sonorous strokes. This prepares the listener for two tracks comprising half the album’s length. Live Forever develops a warm, reassuring loop of consonant harmony, blissfully layered and with beautiful mottled textures. The Pressure of this Water leads straight on with greater movement, its figures dancing in the mind’s eye.
Finally Nearer holds still, its relative lack of moment revealing a heart of greater substance, Moore’s simple bow strokes soft but emotionally penetrating.
Does it all work?
Yes. The longer pieces are the most effective, showing that Moore has really mastered the art of pacing a track that lasts almost a quarter of an hour while keeping it compelling to the listener. It is fascinating tracking the development of the material…but it is equally rewarding to zone out completely and allow the developments to take place in the background and set the mood.
Is it recommended?
Yes. David Moore has opened a fascinating new chapter of Bing & Ruth’s sound by switching to a different keyboard, one that wholly complements the previous piano-based work. Species is both intimate and expansive, so it will prove fascinating to witness it in a live environment – which, COVID-19 permitting, we should be able to do in the UK in December.
You can read an interview with David on Arcana in the next few days…and in the meantime enjoy the playlist he put together for us