R Beny, Full Blossom of the Evening

rben_fboeFor the most part, Full Blossom of the Evening from R Beny (Austin Cairns) is full of soft-edged drones, ambient structures that melt past like fading clouds, and passages with a glittering vivacity. The album offers up nine short expressions, the two longest clocking in around the eight-minute mark. For me, although I like almost everything on this album, it is at its best in the longer, more droning tracks. It opens in that space with the title piece, immediately surrounding the listener in warmth. Pad-driven and calming, it evolves later with bright chime tones that will be revisited throughout the album, and field recordings. The change is so gradual and natural, there were times in early listens when I checked to see if I had shuffled to a different track. “Three North Faces” is another misty blanket of sound, classically amorphous and drifting and deeply layered. The big, crunchy drone of “Blue Kings,” which closes out the album, is deliciously rough at the edges, a wall of tone hissing in your ears as it slowly shifts and flows. Cairns is equally effective in his more active pieces. “Light Leak” gives us ringing, metallic dulcimer tones similar to what we hear in “Full Blossom of the Evening,” hitting like a spatter of raindrops across an interlace of shifting pads. “Glisten” takes a similar path, but more simply melodic. Pads like a mix between strings and low woodwinds draw a line through the chimes, and Cairns folds in electronic gurgles and warbles for texture.  We hear it again in the next track, “Ridge,” but taken one more step in subtlety downward. The chimes ease lazily through and those extra electronics are nudged toward the back but still present. As much as I enjoy this album, there are a couple of missteps for me. “Lupine” is a tangle of tones that rises in intensity to an almost-grating edginess. It’s unfortunately placed second on the track list, which makes for a very hard change of gears coming out of the softness of the title track. I may have noticed it less, or objected to it less, if it came elsewhere. Although I very much enjoy “Three North Faces,” it kicks off with a very rough edit–it may be a production choice to have it jump in the way it does, but it sounds like a bad edit and, given how smooth and low-key the track is overall, that start does the piece a bit of disservice. Similarly, the sudden stop at the end of “Ridge” is certainly a choice, but I don’t know if it was the right one.

As is often the case, the highest praise I can give R Beny is to say that “Full Blossom of the Evening” has me quite ready to hear more. This album has consistently delighted me as pieces from it come up in shuffle and, with the noted exceptions, has made for very palatable repeat/looped listens. There’s plenty of beauty here, and it speaks to there being a wellspring of much more.

Available at Bandcamp.

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