reviewed by Chris Matei
Some albums evoke a particular time period. Others give the impression of a certain mood. Rippling Waters, the soon-to-be-released EP from Halifax, NS trio Ostria Lake, seems to be most strongly influenced by a place. This is a place with dust and light, sparseness, softness, openness. A place that seems familiar, with the promise of discovering something greater as you delve down into it.
Rippling Waters is an album that blends intimacy with unexpected vibrancy. With a homespun production style and a focus on the resonant textural interplay of an assembled menagerie of stringed instruments, it intersects hushed, intense folk with a series of “lullabies” – short, sparse instrumental motifs whose titles homage to the natural world. The delivery of vocalist Elias Abi Daoud recall Rob Crow, Jose Gonzalez or Sufjan Stevens at times. There’s a clear, unblemished focus to the sound: subtle, ghostly reverb and doubling, string plucks, finger movements, plectrums skittering, the rustling of clothes moving, the background shush of breath and signal-to-noise.
What makes Rippling Waters intriguing is Ostrea Lake’s ability to weave a sense of tension and progression into their plaintive, folky songwriting that recalls the dynamic skyward motions of modern pastoral post-rock. It’s an interesting contrast: in its songs, the band is clearly aiming for the kind of crescendoing, tremulous uplift that would fill an amphitheatre with peals of delay-heavy guitar in the hands of a band like Sigur Ros or Band of Horses. They achieve something compelling by situating these sonic ideas in a much smaller, more personal space and allowing them to open up, bright and wide.
“Rippling Waters” is out June 13 on All We’ve Got Records
Top Tracks: “In August,” Further,” “When the Storm is Near”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)