The Rheingans Sisters – Receiver: Album Review

The fourth album as a duo from The Rheingans Sisters takes their European influences via Wales and into a rich and original collaboration with visual artist Pierre-Olivier Boulant.

Release date: 23rd October 2020

Label: Bendigedig

Format: DL / CD

Receiver is their first recorded collaboration since Bright Field in 2018 that held some poignant and carefully crafted treasures. Expectation is high and breath is held for more in a similar vein.

Appearing in a package that celebrates the marriage of their song and music with the visual art of Pierre-Olivier Boulant and his delicate solargraphs, it shows a commitment to their ambition and vision.

Anna Rheingans has described Receiver as an album that has “come from waiting and listening to the world.” Strange how all roads almost inevitably lead to the 2020 pandemic. It’s clear even in the opening track, The Yellow Of The Flowers, that carries the sentiment about feeling trapped and how we ultimately miss those things that may have been the cause of those feelings. All manner of cliches are conjured up: about the grass not always being greener on the other side and being careful what you wish for.

The combination of instruments sees fiddle and percussive sounds trading soft blows with rich viola and the Hammond and pocket piano. Look and listen closely and you’ll pick out some electric guitar and synth.

It’s an album that would be perfect with a visual accompaniment. Even though the arrangements are delicate and carefully poised there’s an element of cinematic scope about the music. It’s also one where you might find yourself trying to listen while holding your breath in an effort to capture every nuance.

For a glimpse of the breadth that Receiver has to offer, One More Banjo takes us roaming off in a gentle bluegrass direction

Insomnia flows and jitters and forms an intriguing pair with the bright whistle (actually a flabuta, a three-holed flute) in Lament For Lost Sleep. After The Bell Rang glides on what sounds like a fluid and gyrating bassline where the hypnotic pulse provides the backing for thoughts of innocence giving way to the volatility of the world. A theme that crops up again in The Photograph.

Orogen is typical of the depth of study that goes into this music. The title is a geological term fro a continental plate that’s been folded into a new mountain range. Musically, it’s a sprightly dance piece that owes a debt to traditional dance music from the Pyrenees and the Bearn and the mouchico and monein folk dances. There’s also a Norwegian halling influence too which is all grand to know for us lesser mortals as ultimately, a jolly nice tune it is.

The Rheingans have the knack of holding you in rapt attention as their musical travelogue transports us from towpaths of Toulouse to Maghrebian myths and the folk music archives of Trondheim. You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone and all that, so make the most of the art of creation and the delights held in Receiver.

Listen to The Yellow Of The Flowers here:

The Rheingans Sisters online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

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