River Mouth Echoes reviewed by Foxy Digitalis

photo by Julia Marie Naglestad

“River Mouth Echoes” alternates between sweet romanticism and distorted ferocity, marking a dynamic set of compositions out now on Zorn’s Tzadik label. In keeping with his label’s commitment to uncompromising works which seek to extend the bounds of music, Ratkje’s latest effort sticks to that mission without flinching.

The recording is comprised of 6 compositions ranging over a span of 10 years, each profiting from drastic contrasts between daring explosions of sound and more contemplative meditations on overtones (particularly of the saxophone, often processed against itself) and non-tempered scales. Though this music is driven largely by theoretical concerns, it’s also both industrial and Earthy, a reflection of life’s often abrupt brutality as portrayed through sharp juxtapositions of silence and bold, atonal passages. Against that, Ratkje’s well-honed sense of timing serves to highlight the melodic interplay of sine waves, both pure and distorted, building moments of split-second intensity that often rearrange themselves, in a most musical way, into something more recognizable, if not sentimental.

This music can sometimes feel as cold-blooded as it does alive and warm, and as she points out in her liner notes, forms an always stimulating dialectic via her unique lexicon of signification. Always engaging, a disc not to be missed.


(P. Somniferum)

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