Thunder May Have Ruined the Moment is a multi-media follow-up to last year’s And the World Is Still Yawning, and although that release was solid, this one is a distinct improvement. William Ryan Fritch (Vieo Abiungo) has gone all out for this effort, enlisting the aid of director Pete Monro for the work on the accompanying DVD. The two components work together surprisingly well, especially as the album is comprised of 15 shorter tracks and Monro blends them into longer compositions.
The DVD is a cornucopia of layered, filtered, colored, blurred, doubled, stuttered, time-lapsed, superimposed and otherwise manipulated images. These range from the natural (trees, brooks, birds) to the slightly unnatural (an abandoned car, a hooded figure). Perhaps the most striking image is that of a bird who seems to be flying while in the standing position, although the sight of smoke descending into an airplane’s wing is also memorable, as is the shattering of images to match the dissonance at the nine-minute mark of the main film. Monro adds a sense of danger to the proceedings that is often less evident in the music itself. It’s not that rising, swirling, suddenly sharp strings don’t set the hair on edge; it’s that the polite percussion typically provides a counterweight. Add the disorienting images, and it’s two against one: the balance shifts. But neither Fritch nor Monro allow us to stay in that place too long, and lest there be any doubt, at the end the beautiful woman in the video starts smiling again. Thunder may have ruined the moment, but sunshine restores it.
In context, the choral sections are no longer ominous, but comforting. The ubiquitous strings add a classical component, while the percussion – as on previous efforts – sounds downright tribal. This time around, Fritch does not seem to be aiming for a world music blend as much as he is a genre blend, in which jazz and rock rhythms co-exist and elements of high drama are melded to moments of keen beauty. The album is groovy enough to inspire swaying, but deep enough for contemplation.
By pursuing the more active direction exemplified by Blood Memory‘s “Fugue”, Fritch forms an immediate connection to the listener. Yet his sense of restraint allows more subtle pieces, such as the chime-haunted “it hangs over us subtle as a cloud”, to resonate as well. Wise sequencing lends the album a sense of uninterrupted flow, increasing its mysterious allure. From the design to the delivery, Thunder May Have Ruined the Moment is a laudable achievement, an example of a multi-media project done right. (Richard Allen)
Release date: April 17