Unfurl is the album that’s been a long time coming. The singles and EP, Foreign Tides, have foreshadowed the same tempting mystery and fluid sound that RY X has unarguably become known for, even with his modest musical backlog.
RY X, real name RY Cuming, declared in an interview with NBHAP that ‘I couldn’t bring myself to simply copy what I had done in the past. I wanted to work in new ways … exploring the vulnerabilities of this heart, but of exploring it in new ways sonically and visually’. Though this much clear in his recently-released album he still delivers the beautiful and obscured sound in a ghostly, ethereal nature – a feat of which not many other musicians are capable.
Unfurl seems an appropriate title for an album so concerned with ‘experiences of the heart’ as Cuming puts it in a tweet signaling the release of the album. Like most of his work, the singer/songwriter reveals his emotions as fragments which only just make their way through the veil of the melody. It seems, then, even more appropriate that all the singles and EPs which preceded this were covered with photography which depicted the human form, struggling against the sheer fabric that seems to accurately depict the resulting sense of the finished work.
Initial collaborations with techno heavyweight Frank Wiedemann and Adam Freeland have seen him put his vocals to tracks that have come to be known as ‘Dance Hymns’, elements of which have continued to this second album. The machine generated sounds seems to rest more consistently underneath the fabric of the album, with the mellow but electronic beat in ‘Untold’ reemerging in ‘Coven’ and again in ‘To know’ with a distinct subtlety. And that very word is what underpins this album. In some ways some of the brilliant experimentalism of Dawn is lost in the midst of creating a more subtle, mature album which hangs together more effortlessly than it has done in earlier works.
He delivers the beautiful and obscured sound in a ghostly, ethereal nature
Whether this is a mark of improvement is difficult to say, because what the lack of welcome turbulence in the first album is only just compensated for by the evident emotional investment demonstrated in tracks like ‘Hounds’ and ‘YaYaYa’. They are hypnotically simple songs with lyrics so fragile they verge on the point of shattering; nothing short of the unique sound we have come to expect of RY X. And despite this, parts of the album are so atmospherically slow, they lose the momentum of the album. There are no doubts this a good album, whether it’s a welcome departure from the previous is a more difficult question.
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