Bing & Ruth are a New York septet led by pianist David Moore, whose music floats in the spaces between ambient, new age and modern classical. Their new album, Tomorrow Was The Golden Age, lands on Rvng Intl. during the label's blitz of early ambient reissues, placing it in a continuum of prototypical electronic music. This fits just fine—refreshingly unpretentious and almost archaic-sounding, the group's natural palette is hardly electronic at all. Instead, the album's seven musicians, most of whom you can't pick out individually at any one time, seamlessly weave their instruments together to create something more than the sum of their parts. From its rumbling lows to its ethereal, resonant highs, Tomorrow Was The Golden Age is one of the simplest and most beguiling albums of its kind since Stars Of The Lid's landmark run on Kranky in the '00s.
Tomorrow Was The Golden Age features the sounds of Bing & Ruth playing, and not much else—its backdrop is so stark that it might feel sterile were the group's music not so emotionally powerful. The spartan environment allows their tones to mix, mingle and blend like watercolour paints. On "Warble" and "The Towns We Love Is Our Town," notes trickle out of Moore's piano, joining the sound of his ensemble in one large crest of overwhelmingly pretty sound. It's also on these tracks that Bing & Ruth employ tape delay (their only production trick), adding to the group's otherworldly feel. The chord changes become impressionistic, as each new melodic turn hovers over the faint imprint of the last.
For the rest of the album, Moore's piano sits above the rest of the group as if he's conducting them, leading their gentle motions back and forth. His phrasing varies from decisive and powerful ("TWTGA," "Reflector") to delicate and nimble. On "Just Like The First Time," it seems like careful notes from his piano trigger bellows and moans from the players below. Brief outbursts aside, their whirring and humming has a singular level of control. Except where called for, they rarely rise above a sigh in the background, and their breathy sounds are foreign and unusual, far from what you'd expect from an ensemble that includes clarinet, bass and cello.
Tape delay lends Tomorrow Was The Golden Age an illusory, out-of-time nature—something we also see in the album's oxymoronic title. At once fluid and motionless, the LP has a way of roping you in, and replaces the glacial drift of most ambient and modern classical with a more linear sense of melody. It keeps coming back to this idea of control, and the uncanny way the players are able to keep their music perfectly still while expressing uplifting and sometimes tempestuous feelings. Then again, "control" would imply a stuffiness, and considering how open, luxurious and flowing Tomorrow Was The Golden Age is, that doesn't even come close to describing Bing & Ruth.
03. Just like the First Time
04. Police Police Police Police Police
05. Strange Wind
06. The Towns We Love Is Our Town
07. We Are on the Side of Angels
09. Postcard from Brilliant Orange