Shining with radiance and lowered through mourning, Radiate Through You is a response to 2016’s devastating Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.
Ensemble Economique channels these upset emotions through his music. Brian Pyle has been a part of Northern California’s experimental community for over a decade, so the tragedy, as well as the resulting blame, which unfairly fell upon the local artistic community, took on personal significance.
Radiate Through You was conceived from the twinned devastations of tragedy and loss, and upon these horrors a creative light still shines, an everlasting vigil by candlelight. Amongst the rage and the tears, the music helps to bring about closure.
Responding in the true way of a musician, he mourned, processed and digested the situation, and created music, art, as a response, and as a tribute to those who lost their lives. Sculpting positives out of something so crushing is the way of an artist. A deep sense of personal loss shudders through the music, the arpeggios falling like the rain of spent tears.
Pyle recorded at his coastal home studio in Manila, California, searching for the ‘more personal and intimate, the idea of love, and shining through’. For Pyle, and for California’s experimental community, Radiate Through You is a release, a catharsis, where hypnagogic chords open up into beams of pure light. This is evident even from the earliest arpeggio, where the music throbs lightly and synths strobe in a gentle, sobering form of ballet. Its soft, filtered light trickles down from above. Webs of entangled electronic melodies provide shimmers and mournful strings provide solemnity.
The music is a lament, sometimes full of rage and at other times looking to transcend. The spare, bare-bones percussion slows the mood, turning it into something weary, dragging it through the tired and pained guitar and its distorted, noisy wails, its nightly melodic discourse a part of its liturgy, its discordant vigil. The guitar lights a candle in the draughty space – cool for California – and while the percussion keeps on rattling, it doesn’t seem to hem the roaming guitar in. It’s exorcising its demons. The guitar’s music is pained architecture, but her tired and forlorn melodies still seek some kind of solace, some radiance that can only come about after defeat, looking for prayers to be answered. At the same time, distortion is so often an effective tool for unleashing anger. And yeah, it’s upset, angry. Pyle doesn’t hide his emotions – he never has – and this gives Radiate Through You a vital authenticity, an outlet from the heart.
Its dirge-like melodies are deepened with the introduction of strings. Candles are lit, a silent, flickering row of light, as they are when Pyle performs live. In that sense, the music is an eulogy as much as it is a breaking of grief’s chain, an approaching radiance that can finally release those who have been suffering; come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Those early arpeggios were once brighter and full of life, the opening track itself entitled “Music Is Life” (which features Barcelona synthesist Alexander Molero)”, but by the second part of “I See You (Three Crosses)”, the mood has fallen. The strings are the main reason for the gloom, for the clouding of the eyes. “Breathing Your Secret Language” feels highly intimate, and psychic sisters Purple Pilgrims add dream-pop sighs and swirling vocals to “Blue Hour”. The catharsis is therapeutic, but the record also stands as a memorial, its mournful echoes like frail reverberations in an old church. (James Catchpole)