I first came into contact with Ulrich Rois when I stumbled across his small independent music label, Feathered Coyote Records, a few weeks ago. As soon as I heard the label's name, I knew he was a man I wanted to get to know more about. As a result, Rois subsequently introduced me to his prolific experimental folk band, Bird People, whom are a truly fantastic act which I hope to both interview and review in detail in the coming months. So it is indeed safe to say that when Ulrich posted this taster single for his upcoming minimalist banjo solo album, 'Along the Belt, Around the Bend', I couldn't wait to delve in and see what sonic revelations were on offer.
I was not disappointed.
Sunrise In The Valley is a sum of several wisely-chosen components, and, if telling of what is to come, my anticipation for the upcoming album is surely increasing. Firstly, the track opts (and I imagine the whole album will follow likewise) for a vocal-less, bass-less, drum-less composition, even though one would of been very easy to add. This leads to a John Fahey-esque feel, evocative especially of his more minimalist work, the recurrent theme of the song being played on with small nuances and flourishes to give a more fluid, free-form structure. Indeed, this adherence to acoustic minimalism helps create the aura of earthy naturalism which is typical of much of Rois' work (especially with Bird People), painting a picture of bucolic landscapes and lush wildernesses, transporting the listeners to a more simple and honest environment. Moreover, the deliberately restrained arrangement also causes me to think of the minimalist compositions of Terry Riley, an apposite comparison as the single draws on many of the drone influences characteristic of Riley's work. The consistent repetition of several almost raga-like melodic ideas helps the listener slow down and step in beat with aforementioned simple but wholesome atmosphere.
Rois informs me the album is to be released sometime in the coming months, possibly late this year (2015).
From the Soundcloud page:
A track from the forthcoming album "Along the Belt, Around the Bend" by Ulrich Rois (Bird People, Metal Mangs Orchestra, Feathered Coyote Records)
Recorded May 2015 in Waidhofen/Ybbs, no overdubs or edits
Copyright 2015 Burrow Sounds
Review written by Daniel Sharman