Richard Ginns – Until The Morning Comes (Eilean Records, 2015)

Richard Ginns - Until The Morning Comes - EILEAN_82-RICHARD-GINNS-COVER

The album preview had me convinced that Richard Ginns’s latest LP Until The Morning Comes would be another strong effort by him, afterall the last record of his I covered (Fall,Risewas a powerful and visceral listening experience, very transportative. But after spending some time with it I began to realise that Ginns had created an emptier and less emotionally resonant record than previously thought, falling into derivative and safe musical territory that just feels a little recycled.

I suppose I just get the impression of a record that plays things very safely and seems to fall in line with things that I consider cliché and a bit stereotypical within modern ambient releases at the moment; just lots of thin and insubstantial drone lines, a distant and vaguely lo-fi production value that graces its airs with homely field recordings and minimal, faraway instrumentation. Lots of Japanese musicians in the genre produce music very similar to this (Masaya Ozaki even features on one of the later tracks) and it just seems worn out and a bit stale to me even if nothing here is inherently weak. “When Sun Rays and Frosty Mist” for example is 12 minutes of bleary retro guitar strokes accompanied by dangerously overused birdsong in its first minutes, moving into non propulsive lakes of reprocessed drones and fragmentary field recordings. It’s not bad but you have to question the length given its rather derivative construction.

Tinkling and shuffling elements are common themes within Eilean albums in my experience, little snippets of environmental moments in particular but also often shiny instrumental piercings; “A Familiar Place” is the best example in its nostalgic washes of distal guitar, turning from its solo pickings that twist into obscurity to be replaced by swatches of scurrying, jangling, unplaceable nothings, its air of remembrance undeniable but its turnings feeling a bit unnecessary, like the guitar had more potency on its own. Cassette player clunkings and mechanical button depressions can be heard through “Faded From The Winter”‘s thick synth delays, a grey expanse of neutral reflection and inconsequential musing that seems oddly juxtaposed against the clarity of the recorded intrusions. Even my favourite piece “Losing Visibility, Passing By” seems affected by tropes in its crackling campfire and fragile, starry eyed twinklings that burn briefly in the radiative, honest drone swathes. It feels timeless and earnest, like a Steve Roach piece; I wish more of the tracks were the same.

“Blossom” is something of a pleasant outlier too, filling itself with static rushes and faint Asian undertones in its steel tympany, a million petals suspended in the air and tickling our vision. It’s very different to, say, the two final pieces in “Dream Shore” and “Cycles”, with the former feeling very detached in its wist and pure, innocent recollections, and the latter engaging in idiosyncratic mirages of the same rarified guitar excitations and minute synth twinkles that populate much of the record. It’s all quite palatable and unassuming, very refined and humble in its simplicity, and although there’s nothing inherently wrong with something being prosaic I suppose I just don’t see what this offers me that I can’t get out of say, Duane Pitre or Taylor Deupree or Illuha, or a myriad others. By all means listen if that sounds like your niche as I’m certain many will find this appealing but I’m personally waiting for this fad to pass.