Despite a prolific 2014, William Ryan Fritch’s music is no worse for wear. In fact, “Revisionist” may yet prove to be his crowning glory. “Revisionist” is exciting music — its opening, angelic chorus and sensitive, vulnerable vocals give immediate indication of the adventure to come. It’s as intense as ever, but it’s also euphoric and dynamically vibrant.
Exotic, spell-binding waves crash up against the shores of the music. Orchestral swells breathe in their silent rhythms, inhaling and exhaling with every swish of the bow. At the same time, the music is slightly haunted, its isle mystical. Sometimes, the strings ascend. Next, they drop out completely, leaving the listener levitating at an altitude of a few thousand feet. In clear, fresh air we stand, as if on top of an invisible peak. The music is always refreshing, and Fritch’s thoughtful lyrics contribute greatly to that fresh vibe. Like a gargantuan goliath that crushes everything with its vast weight, the music stomps and splashes through rich, tonal forests and lakes of reverb. Fog-lit ruins help to add an air of mystique, and when all of these elements combine it makes for a heady, smoky potion.
The crash of a drum occasionally adds some power — a kind of violent aggression — but the softer strings and the Disney fairy-tale of the lilting vocals stop it from ever progressing into something much more dangerous. For the most part, “Revisionist” is a safe place to be. There are loud crashes and cobwebs that tickle your face, but the threat never gets any closer. This is a species native only to Fritch’s work: imaginative music that blends in easily with Fritch’s poetic lyrics. At times, the soft bass notes recall a distant kind of folk music — something that’s crept out of the folk-smoked woods. But the extravagant strings and the skyward vocals seem to suggest otherwise. It’s undeniably powerful, but Fritch is still able to soothe the music, like a trickle of warm honey for a heavy cold. The music shimmers warmly, and we gradually acclimatise. In fact, once you’re in, you’re in deep — it’s a hallucinatory experience, bursting with colour and immediacy.
The vocals swirl in the air, touched by the ancient, natural storytelling of folk music. Leaves litter the soil, and they kick up into the air as the drum crashes around. Strings swirl alongside, but they rise higher and higher on the warmer currents, illuminated by the sun. ‘Unholy Frames’ is lit by warmth and rising temperatures. The track features Origamibiro, and the subtle electronic beat that hovers beside the strings really does elevate the music. The album alternates between a crushed spirit and the lighter shades of hope. But Revisionist ends on a brighter note. The coda, ‘Still’, has a stunning set of vocals, delivered sublimely by Esme Patterson. This is the clearest ‘pop’ song, and the closest we’ve come to a traditional song structure — which is important to note because this structure gives the music its powerful momentum. Right to the end it carries on, like the unstoppable motion of the tide. Foam rises up and over the track. The track flies away, finally spreading its wings. And judging from “Revisionist”, William Ryan Fritch is now airborne, too.