Before Bing & Ruth’s halcyonic opus Tomorrow Was the Golden Age, there was City Lake. Initially pressed in an unusually limited edition five years ago, the ensemble’s stunning full-length debut is now released in simultaneously refined and expanded form. With bonus tracks and new, visceral mastering, the album gleams all the more and signals a spree of live performances this fall revisiting the material.
As the principal leader of Bing & Ruth, David Moore assembles his orchestral roster according to the scope of each piece and recording setting. For City Lake, Bing & Ruth consisted of eleven members: two clarinetists (Jeremy Viner and Patrick Breiner), two cellists (Greg Heffernan andLeigh Stuart), two vocalists (Becca Stevens and Jean Rohe), a bassist (Jeff Ratner), a lap-steel player (Myk Freedman), a faithful tape-delay engineer (Mike Effenberger), a percussionist (Chris Berry), and Moore on piano.
City Lake is shepherded into concrete pastures by Moore’s weightless piano melodies, immersed as they are in grand shapes of breath-like horn, string and voice phrases. Augmented with more percussive proclivity than TWTGA, City Lakeestablishes Bing & Ruth’s ambient brand through a greater gamut of material mediums. If TWTGA opened its shutter to the imperceptible shifts of transitions between darkness and light,City Lake was composed to be less ethereal, instead embodying a group-oriented musicality and physicality.
On City Lake, there are instances of Reich-ian excitement with the hand clapped rhythms of “Rails” and a seance of sorts excorsized by the brush-tapped “Put Your Weight Into It.” Dual track “City Lake / Tu Sei Uwe” culminates the urbanized form of ambience with tonal elements in free-fall, piling-up in a harsh denouement of the album’s title piece. Further into the program David Moore’s intrigue with Gavin Bryars and Thomas Newman finds delicate voice in the hibernative “Here’s What Your Missin,” a track redolent of all the narcotic power of which Bing & Ruth are capable.
City Lake sets the standard met by Bing & Ruth’s sonorous sophomore journey Tomorrow Was The Golden Age. In this earlier portrait, the ensemble graces its listeners with gail-force movements from the wake of Bing & Ruth’s gliding wings leaving trails in the skyline. City Lake was RVNG’s chance introduction to Bing & Ruth, mistakenly handed off as unmarked test pressings by the vinyl manufacturer.