"I Could Not Love You More" cover

Album released 2009 on Type (vinyl, CD, digital: 2009) / Blink in the Endless (Bandcamp only: 2016)



Ambient music as a genre can have a lightness, an imperviousness to criticism. This album put me to sleep. This album just sort of drifts by, never asserting itself. This album requires patience. This album never knows where it's going, and takes its time getting there. This album sounds like a bunch of one chord songs. In most any other genre, these statements would be fatal criticisms, but applied to ambient music, they could be seen as complimentary, depending largely on the mood of the listener and whether or not they "get" ambient music in the first place. I've been listening to the new Rameses III (read Rameses the Third) album I Could Not Love You More a ton for the last couple weeks, and it sounds great, but like Teflon, this stuff just won't stick in my memory. I was having a hard time figuring out whether that's a good or a bad thing, even as it seemed to be an impressively accomplished work. But with increasing familiarity came the realization that this music attempts a deeper representation, following musical rules and traditions less so than following a sort of metaphysical naturalism, leaving behind human time in the search of something far more immortal and everlasting.

Refreshingly, this album has a "played live" quality, eschewing digital manipulations for acoustic instrumentation (guitars and synths, and along the way a little bit of flute, brass, and strings), providing a warmth and calm which is soothing and realistic without being too enveloping or repetitive. Each movement seems a slight logical step from the one preceding it, and even though it has a performed quality, this performance feels more vessel-like than preplanned, the players acting merely as channels for some greater truth the Earth has to transmit about its own feelings. The music here is executed with an uncommon restraint and patience, and this lack of rush allows for a representation of eternal processes, durable, gentle, and faithful, not affected by the day-to-day problems that humans find themselves consumed with. Subsequently there is a distance and above-ness which brings a feeling of tranquility and serenity, an escape from the minutiae of an Earthly existence without removing oneself from the planet's deeper beauty and mystery.

"No Water, No Moon" is the real highlight here, distinct enough to be memorable and, through restraint, maintaining an ambiance even though it is built from more traditional-sounding elements: an acoustic guitar pattern, a moaning slide guitar, and a plucky banjo. It hazes out in the middle for a field recording solo of sorts, the sounds of birds and water along coastline, before picking back up where it left off for a coda. It straddles the line of suggestiveness lacking in a lot of ambient music, and gives the album a deeper connection to real life.

In the end, I would say this album is dreamlike in the sense that when it's over, you know you just experienced something special, but can't really remember the details unless you consciously try to. The thing is, you don't feel a big loss for not remembering. Why would you? You can cue up this audio dreamland anytime you want and relive it. And after all, it's the experience while listening to ambient music which is important, not what it means after the fact.

Greg Argo
Friday 22 January 2010

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