Other Sunset is the solo project by Ryan Engage. Engage is a recent college graduate and former seven-year piano student from Orlando, Florida. On Bandcamp he has recently released circadian which revolves around nothing else than his vocals, piano and a good dose of melancholy.
The first thing that needs to be discussed is the recording quality. Unfortunately, it's hard to get away with an extremely lo-fi recording like that on circadian with minimalistic music like this because the nuances, subtleties and inflections in someone's voice are vital to the experience. Suffice it to say I’m sure Engage worked with what he had which is fine but I think the songs would have been more effective if there was more clarity within the mix. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about circadin is that the recording quality changes from song to song. For instance, the opener “quicksand” sounds far superior from an aesthetic perspective than “intercoastal.”
Engage’s singing style is usually soft and subdued. It reminded me of Phil Elverum more than once. Engage is not the most dynamic singer and is still a bit rough around the edges (he occasionally sings off key and sometimes his delivery feels off) but I like what I heard.
The opener “quicksand” is a highlight in a number of ways. It’s not only the best sounding song on the album but also has an arch. The lyrics are well thought out and seem to revolve around some type of existential crisis. He sings, ”i see calmly along old lines of thought i once held and i understand why they feel so comfortable with something like quicksand every step i wish that there was a sure set of land that i stepped on that told me what i wanted for myself.”
The subpar recording quality on “intercoastal” was too much for me to really appreciate the song. Fortunately, “breathing” gets back on track. “Breathing” like the other songs relies on soft spoken lyrics and more intensity as the song progresses.
Overall, Engage has some talent in a lot of departments but he will need some tweaking and refining if he hopes to hang with the big boys. Circadian is a solid start and I hope to hear Engage evolve and improve as he continues to release music.
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