Ransom Scenery are a moody lot. Originally the duo, consisting of Chaepter Negro and Drew Lowery, created music via email and technology as certainly remained their friend. On their debut, ear to ear, they create airy soundscapes punctuated with odd samples, wrapped around instruments run though all manner of special effects. While their label likens them to Alt-J and Steve Reich, they sound a bit more like This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, or “Atmosphere”-leaning Joy Division into early New Order. That being said, they do manage to take all of those influences and overlay their own ideas.
In spots, it’s all about the mood and feel. The opening track “Slowly Spinning,”, for example, gives you a good idea of where these boys are headed, though there will be a few surprises along the way. In some places, it sounds like they could be heard on the NPR music program Echoes. However, the more aggressive percussion and dark chords might be off-putting to John Diliberto and his listeners.
“My Golden Shield,” is the closest thing to a pop song, even though they made a video for “Slowly Spinning.” However, “Shield” would be the most likely candidate for radio play. Negro’s near-baritone rumbles over lower octave piano, flavored with bells and draggy guitar, even though there are apparently no guitars present.
Pulling a rabbit out of their hat, the duo offer “Just Tour,” which could have easily been removed from a time capsule placed in 1990. With a nod to that era’s industrial bands, it starts with odd samples and rhythms but moves back towards the duos overall sound which remains pretty cohesive across the album.
Credit them too for not going on too long with any particular song or idea. There is one track that is over eight minutes while only two others clock in at just over four minutes. Restraint is certainly one of their talents. Not a lot of truly memorable songs, but then again, that’s probably not what they were going for.
7 Stars out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.