Bing & Ruth

No Home of the Mind

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Excluding a few early, limited releases, No Home of the Mind is the third proper full-length from pianist David Moore's post-minimalist ensemble Bing & Ruth, and their debut for legendary indie label 4AD. While 2010's City Lake was created by 11 musicians, including two vocalists, and featured compositions stretching past the ten-minute mark, No Home continues with the more refined sound of Bing & Ruth's 2014 breakthrough Tomorrow Was the Golden Age. That album featured seven musicians, and No Home is even more stripped-down, as Moore is only joined by clarinetist Jeremy Viner, bassists Jeff Ratner and Greg Chudzik, and tape delay operator Mike Effenberger. Even with a reduced personnel, it doesn't feel as if anything is missing. These pieces seem to drift a bit more than the ones on the previous two albums, but they're still highly focused. On several selections, Moore plays his piano in a cascading style reminiscent of the "continuous music" of Lubomyr Melnyk, with clusters of notes rushing in an ecstatic blur. Opening track "Starwood Choker" and "Form Takes" are both examples of this, and two of the album's highlights. On other tracks, the notes are sparser and more solemn, but the playing style on pieces like "As Much as Possible" still seems to require an enormous amount of discipline in order to master. While Moore's piano often seems to be the lead "voice" of the compositions, the other musicians play a vital role in shaping the moods and atmospheres of the pieces. It makes sense that one of the group members is solely in charge of tape delay, as there's enough of it to warrant a full-time position, and it greatly accentuates the snowy, hazy qualities of the music. While the music is generally calm and reflective, there are several darker moments. "Flat Line/Peak Colour" opens with a sorrowful, rainfall-like piano melody, and gradually seems more concerned and alarmed, eventually getting as doom-filled as this group gets. But even at their most dramatic, Bing & Ruth still can't help but sound effortlessly pretty. As with previous albums, Moore seems to delight in twisting grammar for his titles, which include "The How of It Sped," "To All It," and "What Ash It Flow Up." While he doesn't quite have the self-deprecating humor of Kyle Bobby Dunn, he seems to agree that this sort of music doesn't have to seem so serious or academic, and that there's room for absurdity and playfulness. Melancholy but not overbearingly so, No Home of the Mind is thoroughly entrancing, and another triumph for Bing & Ruth.

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