Ryan Teague is one of those savvy neo-classical types who's able to deftly steer between acoustic and electronic approaches to composition, synthesising the two into emotive soundscapes that move between ambience and melody. 'Block Boundaries' has elements of other composers attached to it: it recalls Steve Reich's 'City Life' and Max Richter's 'The Blue Notebooks', as well as Phillip Glass' work, but retains its own singular forcefulness and surprisingly quick pace.
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With comparisons to Max Richter and Philip Glass, Ryan Teague has a lot to live up to on 5th LP Block Boundaries, continuing his toeing of the minimalist boundary between the acoustic and the electronic. To be honest that division is pretty redundant as the overall sound here melds the two so that, apart from the instantly familiar piano on the title track, they are indistinguishable.
This is brilliantly cinematic stuff, combining the many instrumental sources into a pulsing but emotional whole. At times it sounds playful, with a sort of harplike music box playing shifting phrases much like Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, with more drawn out notes from subdued synths and what appear to be organs providing dynamics. The final stages of 3rd track ‘Last Known Position’ are particularly Reichian, almost sounding like the guitars which take centre stage in the aformentioned piece. All of the chords and arrangements chosen by Mr. Teague knit the individual parts together and hold a certain nostalgia - great for some rainy train listening. That’s for rains and/or trains.
While the 1st side is rhythmic without providing a proper drum beat, the 2nd side hits on more conventional patterns with a shy house beat on ‘Liminal Space’ and ‘Animated Landscape’ bringing a different context for Teague’s versatile sound. One thrilling feeling while listening to Block Boundaries is not really knowing which way it is gonna pull next - towards pure ambient soundscape or stuttering pulse cannons? I guess that’s pretty much the spectrum here, but it’s one of my favourite spectrums. Spectruses? Spectra.
For deep listening, Block Boundaries is a well executed foray into rhythmic beauty, with comparisons to Max Richter being bang on. Now go forth and find a train and some rain.
8/10 Garyreviewer Customer review, 26th November 2014
New release from Ryan Teague proves once again how diverse & interesting his music can be. Following piano albums, soundtracks, neo classical & multi-tracked guitars - here he's plugging into Berlin school synth styles amongst other things! The ghost of mid 70s Tangerine Dream isn't too far away on a couple of tracks. Shortish, punchy pieces, each a joy.
Now I'm looking forward to his take on Gamelan.
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