Ryan Horton has been involved with creating electronic music for his last three albums and it wasn’t until recently that he started implementing found sounds that he picked up in the city, the Mississippi river and wherever else he goes. He says on his Bandcamp page that he was trying to answer the question How do I use the power of electronic arrangement in the home studio, without the use of electronic sounds and instruments?
Apparently he found it because the album is very good. Not unlike Herbert or Matmos who created one of their albums A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure by recording medical equipment, Horton is able to disguise these sounds and make them sound so much bigger then the sum of their parts. In fact I would have to say this is more enjoyable to me then how Herbert has used found sounds. I felt like Horton really left a lot of space on this album leaving you to question what you were hearing as opposed to Herbert whom I feel is making unbelievably catchy pop songs but almost don’t see the need for the found sounds. Ryan Horton latest Listen Alone uses guitar and piano occasionally while every single rhythmatic element is a found sound.
We start things off on the right foot with “Feel All.” I would have enjoyed this song regardless of how it was made. With the complex almost disorienting rhythmic sequences that would make Richard D. James proud, the sweet spot is at the end when he starts grooving with what sounds like a vocal sample that becomes quite hypnotic.
It isn’t until “Fire” that we have a straightforward acoustic guitar plucking a simple melody. All you have to do is wait before it is cut up and treated just like any other sample he found. After a while you barely even notice the guitar. It feels like an abstraction. It was nice to hear the short but melancholy piano-based song “Expect Nothing.” It brought some emotion that I wasn’t expecting to feel from this album.
Horton created a unique, adventurous album that may be on my personal top ten for this year.
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