Music Review: RiverChants by The Sound Collective
I’m going to start off by stating that RiverChants by The Silence Collective is NOT for everybody. As a matter of fact, the EP is likely to attract a fairly specific crowd, since its highly experimental music is quite unconventional by almost every standard. Imagine, if you will, tracks full of dissonant sounds, including jazz-inspired instrumental components, and vocals that sound like a cross between animal and human noises. Now tie that in with a “plight of water” theme and you get, well… this.
Released on April 22nd, 2021, the unusual collection features an ensemble of improvisational musicians. These are Jeff Bird, Matt Brubeck, Daniel Fischlin, Gary Diggins, Christine Duncan, Kathryn Ladano, Joe Sorbara, and Lewis Mellville. And, according to the press release, their “hope is that the expansive soundscapes and imaginary waterscapes of RiverChants transport you both upstream and downstream –– and that you experience the deep reservoir of stories, memories, and sonances of the Speed, Eramosa, and Grand Rivers” in Canada.
The press release goes on to explain:
“Water circulates as the planet's lifeblood, sustaining life everywhere, ecologically, rivers act as arterial expressions of hydrology where ceaseless transformation and mutability –– from mist and condensation to dewdrops, rain, ice, snowmelt and runoff, waterflow and oceanic wave––are the norm. River sounds carry the melodies of time and space, biotic flux, interconnection and interdependence, local and cosmic meanings.”
The EP consists of four tracks. First is “Born of a Cloudburst ... A Sparrow Takes a Beakful of Water,” which is 19(+) minutes long and features excerpts from This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart: A Memoir of Halves (2020), an award-winning non-fiction book by Madhur Anand. This is followed by the five-minute long track “Alive” and the 3-minute long “Its Music a Form.” The album concludes with the ten-minute long “A Watershed” that includes vocals that are very reminiscent of Bjork's. Interestingly, some of these instruments were designed by the musicians.
While the EP is not something I can listen to in one go, having listened to the four tracks spaced out by a few hours throughout the day, I can definitely appreciate the originality of the concept and the ecological message behind it. To me, this work is similar to observing an abstract painting — it may not fit with my personal taste, but the idea behind it is intriguing enough to have a look. As such, I encourage you to check out RiverChants and decide for yourselves.
Note* Album provided for objective review by our partners.