William Ryan Fritch

Library Catalog Music Series, Vol. 7: Music for Honey and Bile

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On the tenth release in the Asthmatic Kitty label series dedicated to the idea of music on hand for appropriate moods, William Ryan Fritch's approach sounds absolutely tailor-made for a documentary set somewhere off the main roads of America about either rural landscapes or lost cemeteries and battlefields -- or perhaps both. Music for Honey and Bile is often reminiscent of the Seven Fields of Aphelion's Periphery from earlier in 2010 in its impact, not least due to the choice of main instrument, piano. The combination of gentle performances and echo, a familiar enough approach to the instrument over the years, is well handled here, with the delicate part on "When the Ground Is Numb" one of the most quietly moving moments. The emphasis on violins on "Over Sate, Underwhelm," with two interwoven parts, and the combination of near-solo and steady pulse on "Shadows Like Despondent Ghosts" and "Nell Cohen's Waltz," a really lovely piece of beautiful melancholia on an album with that mood as a constant, further stand out during a listen. Meanwhile, touches such as what sounds like kalimba creating the lead melody of the brief "Eggshells" and the distant skittering percussion on "When the Seas Boil Over" -- a moment that suggests the more experimental edges of a band like Hood -- also showcase Fritch's ear for range. There's also a good sense from him for how to make titles and music match beyond poetic intent -- "Tongues That Chatter Like Pigeons" has a recurrent clap/percussion part unlike anything before it on the album, which does play up the idea of sudden conversation in the midst of contemplation. But sometimes the poetic says it all -- "Girdle Pressed Ribs," referring to another string-led part, feels like a sudden weight of history made manifest, at once formal and constricting.

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