Boomkat Product Review:
It’s been far too long since we last heard from British composer Ryan Teague. It seems like eons since his lushly orchestrated ‘Coins and Crosses’ hit the shelves, and since then he’s been near silent. Something has kept him busy though, and no doubt some part of that was taken up with sculpting this surprising and enchanting new disc. It’s always hard to get the balance of old and new just right, and so much has happened musically since the release of ‘Coins and Crosses’ that it would have been pointless to do something in exactly the same vein, but Teague has thankfully taken this on board, and ‘Causeway’ is a very, very different record indeed. So much so that initially it might not be obvious that it’s even the same artist; the biggest and most obvious difference is the inclusion of Teague’s expert classical guitar playing, and this sits at the very centre of ‘Causeway’. Don’t think for a minute though that the record is simply yet another lazy John Fahey tribute, Teague’s rich composition and production skill (honed for the last few years working on commercials and film soundtracks) shines throughout and there is a sense that even though he is no longer writing for an orchestra, he still manages to conjure up the same sense of grandeur and levity as he did on ‘Coins and Crosses’. The almost Reichian phrasing of the guitar parts build up together and dance across subtle electronic treatments to almost percussive effect, creating a jittering flurry of harmony and melody. The taps of the strings are so rhythmically accurate that I could almost compare it to Battles, albeit a more pensive, more densely composed and much slower Battles, but with the same mathematical precision and punkish intensity. Overall ‘Causeway’ is successful because while it is a distinct development and change from his previous work, it manages to retain all the core elements and take them further. The high points here (‘High Knoll’ and ‘Singular’ just to mention two) are some of the best of his career, making for a moving, standout work from an artist who refuses to stay still.