Bing & Ruth, the project of New York's pianist David Moore,
debuted with the minimalist and ambient compositions of
City Lake (2010), an album scored for
two clarinets, two cellos, two voices, bass, lap steel, tape delay, percussion, and piano.
Some of the pieces focus on evolution:
how the haunting cello melody rises slowly from the mist of repeated piano patterns in Broad Channel;
how the dancing piano pattern (and clapping) in
yields a distorted soaring cello-driven motif;
The least appealing of these emerging pieces is
City Lake/ Tu Sei Uwe (15:09), in which the rather tedious
interplay of a dense drone and calm piano after 11 minutes suddenly turns into a rocking jam.
The other group of compositions has to do with contrast and (disguised) intricacy:
Put Your Weight Into It (12:02) pits a frantic piano pattern against a slow vertigo of wailing of suffering ghosts; and
the extremely slow Here's What You're Missin (7:42) absorbs meteoric glitchy sounds.
Tomorrow Was The Golden Age (RVNG, 2014), performed by a septet of a pianist, two clarinetists, two bassists, a cellist and a tape-delay operator,
lacked the depth of the debut and seemed to target relaxation, often
ending up like a younger version of the new-age music of the 1980s.
The quietly solemn Reflector (7:20) and the
impossibly fragile Just Like The First Time (7:10)
are the extreme manifestations.
After all the languor and ecstasy, the rolling
thick tones of The Towns We Love Is Our Town (6:34) come as a welcome surprise.
From simple piano figures Moore derives lasting emotions: it was the dogma of
When it works, as in Reflector, Moore's music is the ultimate "atmospheric" art,
but, in order to work, it needs an ending, a goal, a mission, which is often
missing or, worse, misguided.
No Home of the Mind (4AD, 2017), with the ensemble pared down to
bass, clarinet and tape-delay, relinquished the Zen-like concentration for
a more melodic format.
The piano "sings", in its strangely fragmented and repetitive way, in The How of It Sped, in As Much as Possible (which sounds like a Christmas carol) and in the more lively Scrapes.
Mostly, the album adopts a warmer attitude and aims for strong emotions.
To All It is enveloped in a romantic wind,
Is Drop soars like a Pink Floyd-ian hymn,
and What Ash It Flow Up is close to lounge balladry.
The product is ready for mass consumption.
Moore switched to the Farfisa organ on Species (2020), and the ensemble
was further shrunk to just bass and clarinet (no tape-delay).
These sound like church hymns performed on a pipe organ, notably
Badwater Psalm and the
13-minute Live Forever (which is probably 6 or 8 minutes too long).
There are at least two Terry Riley tributes: the austere I Had No Dream and the warmer and more melodic The Pressure Of This Water (Riley may envy the latter, not the former).
Not exactly groundbreaking.
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