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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
Matthew Ryan
From a Late Night High-Rise
2minutes59

Rating: 7.3/10 ?


July 11, 2007
The spare, whispering synthesizers and distant industrial noises that open Matthew Ryan's latest album, From a Late Night High-Rise, immediately evoke a sense of isolation and ache. Given that Ryan began writing the album shortly after the sentencing of his brother to 30 years in prison and the death of a close friend, the sorrowful tone of the album comes as no surprise. Ryan's vision isn't bleak, though. Amid the turmoil lies a resilient hope: "I'm full of doubt/Still I believe" ("Victory Waltz").

The amalgam of sadness and hope makes many of these songs some of the most moving and universal of Ryan's career. A gifted and articulate songwriter, he has always displayed a knack for crafting poetic phrases, and he creates plenty of intriguing imagery on High-Rise - "Our igloo/ Will soon be/ In poisoned silver pools" ("Gone for Good"). But the lines that ring with the greatest poignancy are the simplest. As the driving "Babybird" climbs to its crescendo, Ryan declares, "And if you wake up scared/ I hope you're not alone/ I hope you're not alone/ I hope you're not alone" while on the aforementioned "Victory Waltz," he gently offers devastating truth: "The ghost of living is worse than death."

The beauty of simplicity extends to the arrangements of the songs. The unadorned instrumentation throughout much of the album, though a bit too austere at times, allows Ryan's raspy, world-weary voice to step to the forefront of the tracks, adding to the music's intimate feel. It's the slow, delicate tracks such as "Gone for Good" and "Victory Waltz," or the subdued uptempo songs like "Babybird" and "Everybody Always Leaves" that shine the most. "Misundercould" and "Love Is the Silencer," Ryan's rocking efforts, are insipid by comparison.

Though it lacks the variety and polish of his previous release, Regret Across the Wires, From a Late Night High-Rise is a more daring and challenging record. Ryan has crafted from his catharsis an album that is concurrently thought provoking, heartbreaking, and uplifting.

Reviewed by Jason Middlekauff
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Jason Middlekauff

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