Bill Ryder-Jones | If

This solo album by ex-Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones is a pleasant surprise. It’s far removed from that band’s music. Supposedly a soundtrack to a novel by Italo Calvino, it consists of mainly instrumental orchestral music.

The title track which opens the album is a wintry, sounding piece with soaring strings and pretty piano, becoming almost melodramatic halfway through with crashing percussion and pulsating violins. The Reader (Malbork) is more like fleshed out Satie. It’s all perfectly pitched, not too cluttered. Leaning (Star of Sweden) drifts along on serene piano and violin for 2 minutes till Ryder-Jones’ vocals enter, which are of the muttered, indistinct, Gruff Rhys variety.

Ryder-Jones paints a bleak, damaged landscape, in a similar territory to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ soundtrack work. By The Church of Apollonia is stately, with female backing vocals. It could have been on Mogwai’s recent Earth Division EP. Le Grand Desordre takes a completely different tack, with picked, folky guitars and whispered vocals.

Further into the album, Enlace raises the pace to a trot, while penultimate track Give Me A Name drifts along like standard-issue Mogwai before a soaring string part lifts it to previously unimagined heights.

A worthwhile way to contemplate three quarters of an hour.

Killian Laher

Bill Ryder-Jones ‘Give Me A Name’ by DominoRecordCo

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