Compilations / Mixes
Thunder May Have Ruined the Moment
William Ryan Fritch is one of those rare individuals who can pick up an unfamiliar instrument from a remote corner of the world and half an hour later be playing it with some astonishing degree of proficiency and probably composing with it, too. For anyone unfamiliar with his 2010 Blood Memory and 2011 And the World is Still Yawning releases, Vieo Abiungo is the name under which Fritch records his genre-transcending material. The self-taught wunderkind has learned to play over forty instruments in his time, among them cello (often the lead voice), piano, accordion, flute, and percussion, and consequently, over the course of the fifteen settings comprising Thunder May Have Ruined the Moment, all manner of imaginable acoustic instrumentation is heard. Amazingly, while current production approaches favour digital methods, Fritch recorded the entire album using analog tape and played all of the instruments by hand without the aid of digital programming.
As distinctive as it is, Fritch's music isn't sui generis. Steve Reich, for instance, appears to be lurking in the background of the ostinato patterns coursing through “To Lay Still In Its Frenetic Surge.” Most of the time, however, Fritch's Vieo Abiungo music sounds like nothing else than, well, Vieo Abiungo and, in true world music fashion, deftly collapses borders. To cite one example, the cello ululating through “The Milk of Venom” is a sound one more naturally would expect to hear originating from the Middle East than the US. Fritch is no slouch in the melodic department either, as the plaintive cello figure flowing through “Thundering of Empty Promise” attests. Elsewhere, the sing-song call of a wooden flute leads the tribal charge during “Why Dogs Mimic Sirens,” a particularly ear-catching exercise in earthy downtempo funk that Fritch renders even more arresting by working a tiny hiccup into its rhythmic flow; a bass clarinet's subtle honk and vibraphone's gleam also adds to the song's rich colour. A broad gamut of moods and styles is encompassed by the album, with pieces ranging from mournful dirges (“Bleed That Rock”) and pensive ruminations (“It Hangs Over Us Subtle as a Cloud”) to settings of peaceful uplift (“All That the Rain Pardons”) and quiet rapture (“Elegy”).
Fritch comes by his global music honestly, too. Though he's clearly someone with no small amount of natural talent, he's added to it through formal study, such that 2011 found him completing his Masters degree at the renowned Mills College institution under the instruction of respected figures like Jean Jeanrenaud (one-time Kronos Quartet cellist), Roscoe Mitchell (Art Ensemble of Chicago), and Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Naked City). And as if the fifteen tracks aren't enough, the project boldly extends into two other areas by complementing the music with a twenty-minute DVD of two films directed by Pete Monro and a booklet of artwork and poetry by Fritch himself.