If the music world were fair, and it is not, then the same kind of mainstream attention that’s been deservedly heaped upon violinist Lindsay Stirling would also fall upon Ryan Avery for his work as Chance’s End. Almost Home is Avery’s fourth full release, but it’s my first exposure to his music and I, for one, am utterly hooked. Fiery violin roars and soars against meaty, ultra-funked-up electronica, and the mix will make your heart race. You get thick bass, you get jittery glitch, you get drops, and then you get unspeakably gorgeous violin lines that draw aural references to Jean-Luc Ponty, Charles Bisharat, and Jerry Goodman—and yet still belong solely to Avery. The hushed opening notes of the title track don’t hint at the potency to come, with long draws matched with echoing pizzicato, the sounds layering into a full weave, and then in comes this bass line, then the familiar snap of electronic percussion and away we go. From the first fluid wails of the lead line, I’m all in with Almost Home. Avery does excellent layer and texturing work throughout the five songs here, so listen closely. “Man in the Middle” wastes no time in setting the groove, and Avery mucks with the sound of one string element to give it a raspy edge that instantly grabs your ear. By mid-track, he’s launched us into a hurricane swirl where his violin dances with blistering glitch and distorted techno tropes—then yanks us out for a quick breath and the final smooth ride to the finish. “Culte De La Femme” is a gypsy’s dance with an electronica beat. The bass line here nabs me. It’s got delicious funk cred all over it. I thank Avery for giving it its own little solo mid-track. The final little trill as the song sees its way out is a pleasant piece of flair. “Telling Truth” is just two minutes long, but it’s where Avery showcases the purity of his playing. Accented with plucks and a very light touch of percussion—perhaps the sound of tapping upon the violin itself?—it is a quiet piece whose effect lasts beyond the final note. “Slow Descent” may put you in mind of Shadowfax. It’s got a touch of an Eastern groove, the way the lines curl and twist. The violin sings its verses smoothly as clap-along percussion marks the time. Right around the three-minute mark, Avery hits the effect pedals and bam—I. Am. Owned. What comes next is just pure fun, perfectly executed.
Have I said enough good things yet? Have you gotten the idea that one album has put Chance’s End smack on my favorites list? Now, I will say that sometimes the slight sameness of the electronic percussion picked at my ear a little. But it’s a sound that’s common to the sub-genre, and as a backbone for the idea at work, it’s fine. Plus, when you’ve got Almost Home shuffling in your personal mix (and you will), it’s going to infuse some funk and power into it. So for me, it works. The album goes on, the volume goes up, the bliss begins immediately. If you are not yet familiar with Chance’s End, the time to start is right now. One of the best releases I’ve listened to this year.
Available at Bandcamp.