William Ryan Fritch – The Letdown (Lost Tribe Sound)


Film composer, multi instrumentalist and ridiculously prodigious artist William Ryan Fritch has another new album out. Whilst he has repeatedly challenged himself and extended his sound on his solo albums, even to the point of vocals, this album feels less like a development than a joyful homage to mood. There’s an exuberant jazzy late night noir feel to this music. It has a slinky groove, an analogue textural feel, a certain Badalamenti jazzy but not quite jazz feel – if that makes any sense. It’s the kind of music that you want to click your fingers to, but its difficult to do so because you’re also lighting a cigarette in the rain.

What’s so different on this album is the use of clarinet – because of course he can play that now. There’s much more woodwind work (and is that brass as well?) than ever before, and it works in really well texturally with the double bass, cello, and periodic vibraphone or even piano. His riffs are dreamy washes of breath, melodic flourishes that threaten to dissipate like smoke in the night air. Aside from the impossibly cool grooves there are some really still moments of gentle atmosphere, which sees him using the instrumentation as sound design, and it’s particularly affecting.

Fritch builds his music in layers, often into dense swells of sound, and whilst this is somewhat sparser than usual, the woodwind in particular feels comprised of multiple ingredients that can be quite difficult to identify. But that’s not really the point. This is music for mood. We’re talking Henry Mancini’s Experiment in Terror, Tom Waits Black Rider, Bohren and Der Club of Gore, jazzy cinematic darkness with hints of noir. Amazing.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.