It turns out that ambient music can be heavy. It can be thick and reverberant, particularly in the hands of composer and multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch, aka Vieo Abiungo. That’s if this collection of widescreen atmospherics and deep emotive gestures could truly be considered ambient music. There’s a certain rickety saunter to many of the 15 pieces here, an organic makeshift percussion that’s gentle, often with a slight saunter, conjuring up a modern classical feel with that faux tribal fourth world that has marked its presence to varying degrees on his previous couple of solo albums. There’s also these inspired moments of gentle textural plucking and subtle striking of gongs, making music that’s barely there. It feels like a work of profound electroacoustic beauty, but closer inspection reveals the electro to be an illusion, and is in fact sourced solely from the acoustic – with Fritch capturing and using resonance and reverberation as a compositional tool.
Fritch is remarkably prolific, from film soundtracks to his role in Anticon stalwart Sole’s Skyrider band to last year’s modern classical meets tribal pop masterwork And The World Is Still Yawning. He seems to be endlessly producing new and increasingly varied pieces of music. This music too is remarkably precocious, he plays everything from piano to cello, to various percussion and exotic instruments and it is truly an immersive all encompassing environment. It’s not just his musicianship but his imagination. It feels like a world music record, yet the world is that of a musically literate multi instrumentalist from Oakland California.
Media artist Pete Monro’s contributions are these really curious amalgamations of video art and music video. Never really falling into either camp exclusively, they tap into the organic feel of Fritch’ music, natural images that are manipulated via layering and editing as well as filters and post production techniques. Initially it seems like there’ no real narrative to speak of and in fact it seems to reference VJ culture, often explicitly editing to changes in the song. Yet then you begin to notice these vague references sprinkled throughout and you realises there is a connection, yet it’s very much open to interpretation. You’d have expected images to bed Fritch’s music down, ground it, perhaps even constrict it. Yet there’ no danger of that. Like most good collaborations the relationship between the music and images raises much more questions than it answers.
Bob Baker Fish