Monday, March 4, 2013
Nina Ryser on The Horse We'd Like to Hang Records
Nina contacted me about her debut 8(!) track EP, from a cassette full length Strange Place she put out right before the new year on The Horse We'd Like to Hang Records. There's nothing better on a seven inch than the intimate bedroom style recorded sounds of a real pop scientist, tinkering away in the ungodly hours of the night and day, testing layered track hypotheses and coming up with entirely unexpected results. The list of instrumentation is impossible to remember and that goes for the chance of recreating this live. These tracks exist in this form on this single forever. Cut into vinyl, they will be attempted and changed on tour, but these imperfect inspirations are set in this black vinyl single at 33 1/3, of course.
This sad and perfect sleeve of a bird belly up in a pool should give you an idea of the direction this is taking. Puzzling at first glance, it's hard to process and by the time you realize what this is made out of, it's too late. That's life, dying and becoming an island for a grasshopper. Still managing to make it beautiful though, starting with "September" and these somber piano sounds. Breathy ahh's and mmmm's from a cut up cassette over this delicate piano, blindly stabbing out, surprisingly lining up with the melody.
"Strange Place" is bured to hell acoustic sounds and the smack of a far away cardboard box. Almost peaking, her vocals are damn sweet, but covering it up nicely with the deliberate lack of fidelity here. Strangely beaten rhythm in the basement or the attic crawlspace, similarly smacked acoustic of unwound strings... knocking on wood. Her vocal still manages to sound extra good in the middle of this peaking overdriven sound. But she doesn't force it, pushing her instrument into an obnoxious place, she's hardly whispering but it can't help but be just plain nice, like Grouper or Woods. The recording itself functions like a real discovery, hidden under the piles of broken plates and paperwork in the abandoned shed. Is textured, broken sound like this the audio equivalent of an instagram photo? Why are we drawn to this nostalgia even when it was just created? I can't help but instantly like it honestly, because of these blemishes. Can you imagine how would this sound if you could easily distinguish every wood block hit or metal banging plate? "Everything That We've Ever Been Taught" shifts into a Joanna Newsome style melody, that same weirdo folk construction with samples and passages of strange handclaps and breathy whispers again this one takes a more ambient approach that here works as a brief rest between the dense abstract pop. "Lullaby to the Pines", has shifted into Bowerbirds style of slow, meditative country. Disjointed sing song lullaby snippets of a specific time and place, incomplete thoughts and pages from a diary. There's a lot to inspire, the use of strange instrumentation, all the experiments happening alongside this beautiful vocal. It almost deserves to be captured perfectly in a controlled room, but the nature of this introspective style couldn't ever happen in an space like that.
B-Side's "Back in Nam comes out with an old blues, out of tune, acoustic sound trying to wrestle a few chords out of this imperfect instrument which is the foundation for a blown out Rhodes sound. Her talk style delivery reminds me of Toothache combined with a Sewn to the Sky sound of a junkpile mess. Trying to make something out of the lowest of instruments. It's a deliberate choice, but she has all of the enthusiasm for just making music combined with a real sadness. "Ballad of a Family Gathering" shows up with a larger sound...a shock alongside the thin, hissy tracks. Layered fragmented lyrics from the country, the matter of fact unusual situations you're forced to read into. "The same wave" is big guitar riffs through a rackety mess...weird off kilter rhythms again pounding... scraping stick hits off on their own little kick over ungrounded cable buzz, with her vocal finding a foothold yet again to bring this out of the complete muck. "Pavement lickers" finds keys plinking around with a toy electric piano sound. A little sugar coated ambient. I like when these tracks are balanced by the layered mess of the recording itself. I want something that honetsly shows its cards, lay out the track with all it's problems and if it's good, then it's going to be good. Is this one too pretty to belong here? Why am I suspicious of how freaking nice this is? Maybe because that bird was minding it's own business and ended up drowned in a pool.
Pick it up off her bandcamp page.