Nathan Amundson makes some of the slowest and smokiest guitar music out there, and he does it under the alias of Rivulets. Previous records have been candle-burning delights to rival the languishing intensity of Jason Molina; In Our Circle showcases him as all of his best selves, whether he's attaching space rock to his resume or doing harshed pastoral psychedelics in the vein of latter day Neil Young. As always, a lot of it is sad and hopeless, because, yeah, Rivulets album.
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Oh God I'm frustrated. You see Rivulets (aka Nathan Edmundson) previous album You Are My Home was the moment his fragile wintery folk music finally fully hit me square in the jaw after a decade or so of his music hinting at greatness. With Songs Ohia gone and Low being all weird on our asses we could do with a mid-western album that would really get inside our souls this winter.
In Our Circle sounds a lot more straightforward than I was hoping. 'Because I Don't Care' for example has all the same ingredients as the lonely folk music of the likes of Songs Ohia but moves in pretty straightforward and expected circles lacking the emotional depth you need from such music. 'Not Today' too is based around fuzzy, droning power chords though is not a bad song all told perhaps tapping something into the noisier Red House Painters of the likes of 'Songs For A Blue Guitar' but 'You Can Never Come Back' uses once again those 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' chords and is saved only by Edmundsons simple and plaintive vocals that do recall Low in their repeating intensity. On songs like 'Sirens' Edmundson gets closest to the Low blueprint but there's a magic lacking here - the guitar is (probably intentionally) distorted.
It's not as if this record has big production - it doesn't - but you realise when you hear tracks like '24' that Edmundson's songs sound better when they are stark and bare and seemingly recorded on a lone microphone in a log cabin.
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- In Our Circle by Rivulets
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