With his work as Ricky Eat Acid, Say Ray functions inside a sporadic group of bedroom production geniuses, whose works are as intentional and impactful as they are fleeting. Under an output heavy Bandcamp-driven new model, the line between album, EP, mixtape, or otherwise is blurred or disregarded in favor of real experience. We got a lot of real experience with Ricky Eat Acid’s Three Love Songs - an ambient, heartbreaking work of instrumental wandering through life’s many existential moments without the words needed to describe them. It’s a record that gives the 2010s something like Dntel’s Life Is Full of Possibilities, something that embodies and appreciates stillness in a world of noise and change. But on his new album and Terrible Records debut, Talk To You Soon, Ray is done with stillness. Instead, Talk To You Soon embraces the dynamic nature of young and ambitious life in flux, and gives us an aptly hyperbolic day in the life. He finds his sonic material ranging from chopping up string arrangements by Owen Pallett (who did similarly experimental work under the name Final Fantasy) to throwing death metal vocals over footwork-worthy bass rhythms. Ray finds a way to reduce, reuse, and recycle the entirety of the musical experience, processing and blending it into a highly consumable 44 minute serving size. Talk To You Soon is a record you never expect to hit you until the moment is gone, and in this, it makes for an eclectic but fitting soundtrack to the many moments that make up a day.
Three Love Songs is not an easy record to follow. It’s the type of fleeting, ambient catharsis that artists like Ray find a way to bottle at a specific time in a specific place. But this kind of feeling can’t last forever, and it’s certainly not a roadmap for a full career. Sam Ray knows this. And thus, Talk To You Soon is almost nothing like the last Ricky Eat Acid LP, and that’s great. In the time between, Ray has given us plenty of melancholy to dwell on, in the form of a few shorter Ricky offerings and multiple releases from his other (equally worth your time) band Teen Suicide. But Talk To You Soon brightens the landscape a bit, not with any great push towards optimism or lightness, but simply in its desire to be candid.
Over the sixteen tracks here, you’ll be taken through pretty much every human emotion there is. “‘Hey’” greets the listener with a heartfelt reunion of swooping strings and massive textures, before “Nice To See You” pours a drink and chills out at the subsequent back bar party. Then, “This is as Close to Heaven as I Get” ends the long night with an introspective ride back to a twin-sized bed, dwelling on those sincere moments of camaraderie before the reality of singularity sets in once again. And that’s just the first three songs. There are about five or six of these types of suites on Talk To You Soon, each with a slightly different flavor of the truth. Given that the album’s total runtime will fit on one slab of vinyl easy, it’s a lot of emotion and a lot of movement to fit into this type of release. “On The Floor Beneath The Cross” is a bombastic spiritual catharsis that dumps the listener off in the disorienting piano stabs of “Spinning About Under the Bright Light” before “Call My Name” throws a cloud-rap barrage of hi-hats at you. But it’s nothing beyond our normal, technologically pummeled daily reality. In fact, the chaos of the narrative is probably more fitting than not.
That being said, there is definitely a narrative. The first you hear the somber aisle-wandering of “In The Grocery Store” drop into “As We Speak”, you will jump out of your seat. Metal group Wreck & Reference show up in primo form for the most chaotic and terrifying moment of the record, only to feel the mind slowly become controllable again. Ray isn’t afraid to challenge the listener to be vulnerable. This is an album that allows you to be as unfiltered as you want to be with it. It’s evident Sam is only asking what he’s willing to offer himself - with this kind of talent and ear for pop (see: “Nice To See You”), I’m sure it would be a cakewalk to pump out something immediately gratifying and sickly sweet. But the mixture seen here is one we can better relate to, one that truly can soundtrack so many days, isolated from the larger tapestry of our lives. It’s just hard to see sometimes in the hustle and bustle. Listening to Talk To You Soon is a good reminder. Taking it all with a grain of salt helps you sleep better at night through the unfinished text conversations and the preemptive to-do lists. It’s an art piece that challenges us to take on the complexity of our mundane lives through an honest lens.
Talk To You Soon is out this week on Terrible Records. Sam will tour in support of the new record, and will make a stop at the Sunset Tavern on November 14, with Kitty (of many an Adult Swim single fame) opening! Grab tickets here.
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