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City Lake

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Album Review

Brooklyn pianist and composer David Moore's Bing & Ruth originally released City Lake in limited release on Happy Talk in 2010. In 2014, RVNG Intl. issued the outfit's acclaimed sophomore effort, Tomorrow Was the Golden Age. It showcased a controlled yet emotionally expressive music that contained ethereal shifts between darkness and light, as modern crossover classical music encountered ambient and new age. By contrast, City Lake is a more physical offering, but no less beautiful. This is due perhaps to the fact that it was performed by 11 members rather than the septet from Tomorrow Was the Golden Age. The earlier recording features two clarinetists, two cellists, two vocalists, a bassist, a lap steel player, a tape-delay engineer, and a percussionist with Moore's piano. Bing & Ruth were already a seasoned live crew before recording City Lake. They staged performances in abandoned apartments, on rooftops, and even in meat lockers. They also played on bills with Max Richter and So Percussion at the Wordless Music Series, the WFMU Festival, and Stochastic Brooklyn. This reissue of City Lake on RVNG Intl. has been expanded by three bonus tracks. The album is anchored by the opening piece, "Broad Channel," which reappears in a long medley with "A Little Line in a Round Face" at the album's center. There is a brooding dynamic implied throughout that hints at darker expressions (and is fully articulated on the spooky solo piano-and-effects closer, "Here's What You're Missin'"). Aspects of melancholy, displacement, and separation seek to redefine themselves in a more holistic emotional — as well as musical — framework and more often than not, do. The longer pieces such as "Put Your Weight into It," "City Lake/Tu Sei Uwe," and "Broad Channel/A Little Line in a Round Face" offer different variations of physical presence. They whisper themselves into being from sparse, harmonic traces that emerge from the ether, but metamorphose with grand crescendos that extend to the margin of post-rock in their concluding statements. Elsewhere, such as in "Rails," cellos and lap steel counter percussive piano phrases and handclaps amid spiraling tape delay distortions and winds. Assembled, they create a lithe, almost songlike articulation of movement that stands squarely in bright light. The set's bonus materials include the brief sketch "You're Gonna Need That When He's Gone, " the drifting "In This Ruined House," and a solo piano arrangement for "Broad Channel."


Formed: 2006 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Bing & Ruth are a Brooklyn-based minimalist ensemble led by pianist/composer David Moore. Moore formed the group in 2006 with several other music student friends attending New York City's prestigious New School. The ensemble size shifts from project to project based on the scope of Moore's pieces, though a core chamber-sized group remains at the heart of Bing & Ruth. Influenced by artists like Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich, their music is often slow to develop and ranges from distant crystalline ambience...
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City Lake, Bing & Ruth
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