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William Ryan Fritch: Leave Me Like You Found Me
On his latest full-length release, William Ryan Fritch (aka Vieo Abiungo) creates a convincing simulation of a free-wheeling psych-folk collective, its music a restless acoustic sprawl of controlled euphoria. This time around, there's a raw and even at times ragged quality to the music that's not unwelcome. Don't mistake that quality for sloppiness, however; what Fritch is presumably attempting to capture is an organic feel that allows the music to breathe without obstruction or constraint. In fact, there's such a naturalness to Leave Me Like You Found Me it often plays like an album of instrumental folk traditionals newly interpreted by The Band during its prime (the very song title “Weightless” suggests the association).
Fritch opts for generally slow tempos in the songs, which bolsters the laid-back character of the album and imbues it with a dream-like aura. Armed with a plodding beat, the opening song “A Still Turning Point in this World” bursts forth, its swooping electric guitar figures emerging rhapsodically against a backdrop of organ and flutes. The lilting waltz time used in “Half Awake in Slow Motion” lends the song a nostalgic feel that transports the receptive listener a half-century back in time. As so often occurs in Fritch's material, moments arise that are special, in this case a quiet episode that pairs glockenspiel and saxophone. The arsenal of acoustic sounds Fritch deploys within the arrangements will be familiar to long-time listeners of his work, with acoustic guitars, strings, woodwinds, percussion, vibes, and keyboards prominent parts of the landscape. And while the songs largely eschew vocals, they're sometimes included (as in “Sun on Cold Skin,” for example) in wordless form as one more enriching texture.
It's amazing to reflect upon how much music has come from this omnivorous multi-instrumentalist the past few years. Not only did his previous release, Emptied Animal, appear but months ago, the new one, in its physical form, supplements its ten pieces with a twenty-eight-minute download of fourteen songs. It's worth emphasizing, however, that when we're making note of the volume of music he's released, we shouldn't forget to emphasize that the music in question has consistently been of exceptionally high quality. The fifty-minute album, by the way, presents Fritch's music in a specially designed five-by-seven-inch case that's been made available in a limited run of 450 copies.