City Rain: Light Turned On
Boltfish Recordings

Another month, another Boltfish release. Don't conclude, however, that the label's seeming non-stop production schedule brings with it a lapse in quality, at least insofar as City Rain's Light Turned On is concerned. Philadelphian Ben Runyan (aka City Rain) cites Trentemøller as his foremost influence—a good thing!—and the material comprising his self-professed autobiographical release Light Turned On perpetuates Trentemøller's dedication to polished design and emotive melodicism. Apparently, Runyan wanted the album to exude a palpably human and organic feel and so worked found and field sounds compiled from his immediate environment—clattering dishes and jangling keys, for example—into the compositions (something heard immediately in the opening “12”). Moods run the gamut in City Rain's expansively-arranged constructions: we're transported to a storm-tossed seaside in “Back on Track” with laid-back trip-hop beats augmented by acoustic guitar and melancholy keyboard flourishes, synths sing blissfully over an acid-tinged strut in the jubilant “Face for Books,” and church tones descend from on high during the ruminative meditation “Philadelphia.” Light Turned On clearly indicates, however, that Runyan's more drawn to the reflective side of things; his romantic side gets an especially nice workout in the wistful “Mia” where radiant tones tinkle and sparkle over gently pulsating rhythms. With eleven tracks totaling thirty-nine minutes, Runyan also shows himself to be commendably concise in his approach—if only more producers would follow his example—and likewise demonstrates a fine-tuned command of production skills. Not life-altering maybe, but solid nonetheless.

April 2008