Les Racines Parmi Les Sabots Des Chevaux marks something of a new avenue for REW<<, the solo project of Ryan E. Weber, as this is the American’s first instrumental record. While being one half of dream-pop duo Eric & Magill and contributing to the bands Camden and The Promise Ring, he’s also released three solo albums in four years. This record lives in another realm, especially when one takes into consideration the contrasting musical approach laced throughout his earlier discography. Removed from all else, the record enjoys a unique flavour because of its separation. There’s a certain level of isolation within the music, but this only elevates its quiet power. The eleven pieces, designed for piano and strings, have a heavy emotional gravitas, capable of either quietly tiptoeing or surging into the breach.
The gentle melody of ‘Ralentissement Debout’ sits over a sparse progression, and the electronics lightly skim the surface of its notes. The cool piano is at once relaxed and slightly entangled. The melody doesn’t overcomplicate itself, and in stretching bravely outwards, the music does more than enough to hold one’s interest. The lean piano co-exists with the strings, uniting to good use on all of the pieces. This is especially true of the unreal ‘Monde Magique et Solitaire’, where a repeating piano melody lays down in gentle hibernation, nestling among strings that bloom like January flowers.
A cool mood persists throughout, and the short pieces are made all the sweeter for their brevity. With enough time to fully develop and explore a single melodic idea, and to justify the inclusion of strings as well, Weber manages to create an entire flourishing world, an endless pause amongst the supposed constrictions of time, excelling in the creation of short, off-the-path meanderings and wintry vignettes full of iced life.
The music takes a melancholic turn on ‘Emptines Subites Disparues’, but even this minor-led progression wears a sliver of hope; it hangs like a locket about its neck, containing a precious memory in its uplifting ending. What’s more, one never knows where this interesting progression is going to end up. Surprises are around the corner, and, in the world of ambient-inflected piano music, this helps to distinguish and differentiate the record from the others (of which there are many). Like a lost, overgrown garden with an accompaniment of old stone angels, well-worn paths and rogue vines, the music feels free, invigorated…and somehow older than it seems. The people have gone, but the birds continue to sing, and so does the music.