There is a moment early on in 'Riderstorm' (releasing April 3rd, 2020 via Lost Tribe Sound) where a submarine-like pulse swells, then fades into the void. “Truth is a wave,” Kael Smith pronounces, “A rave I just can’t hear.” On Smith’s second album under the Mute Forest moniker, truth seems to slip in and out of his hands like a moth. Amongst the album's ten sonically rich and verdant songs produced by Mike Bridavsky (Magnolia Electric Co, Rivulets) these moments of clarity are bountiful; textural brush strokes strip away, the lens focuses in, and with a magnifying glass the listener peers directly into Smith’s vulnerability.
“This has been the most difficult record of my life to make... or at least to get started,” Smith explains.
Tragedy befell Smith (aka Mombi) in 2017 when his father died from alcohol abuse. Smith mentions, “There was a very long stretch after my dad died that I didn’t play music, my love for it was gone. I had an incredibly difficult time coming to terms with the idea my father would never hear another song of mine. And when you feel your best music is still to come, it’s hard to cope with that notion.”
It took a workmanlike approach to finally kickstart the material that would ultimately find its way onto 'Riderstorm.' Smith elaborates, “I climbed out of the muck by forcing myself to play open mics with only sketches of songs written. Sometimes I had so little to work with I would just go on stage and improvise with guitar loops and lyrics. Having that weekly deadline forced my hand and often times it was thrilling.”
That thrilling energy is captured exquisitely on 'Riderstorm.' The album is flush with guitars, bass clarinet, saxophone, organ, backing choirs, drums and more. All help flesh out what is by far Smith’s most mature release and a bold step in ear-percolating production. “Once I had about 10 songs mapped out I knew I needed the recordings to be special. Early on I decided I wanted to make a record of purity, capturing live takes with little-to-no computer processing of sounds. That’s when Mike (Russian Recording) was introduced to me,” describes Smith.
Smith spent 12 days recording in the bucolic, funky college town of Bloomington, IN. It was there at Bridavsky’s revered Russian Recording, he found the tools to fill his guitar tracings with flesh and blood. “We filled Russian’s beautiful live room with some of the finest session musicians in the area, all recorded though Mike’s massive Soviet-era vintage microphones and console. When I heard the tracks played back for the first time, I was stunned by their beauty and detail,” Smith recalls.
A bitter-sweet current seems to run throughout the veins of 'Riderstorm' and Smith agrees, “There are songs on here I wish my father could hear…and there are also songs and lyrics I would have never written had he not passed.” He divulges, “I’ve always felt music can be a teleport and there are songs on here that can teleport me to when he was alive. The hope is the album can teleport someone else out there somewhere beautiful too.”
'Riderstorm' will be available in two physical formats. The CD arrives in a Japanese-style gatefold jacket featuring full color artwork by Berlin-based visual artist, Gundula Blumi. The album was also pressed to 150gm vinyl using the lacquer cut method by the high quality plant Gottagroove in Ohio, USA. The vinyl comes housed in a beautifully textured, 350g reverse print jacket, with an interior anti-static black poly-sleeve, and lyrics and credits insert. The CD edition is limited to 100, while the vinyl edition is limited to 150 editions.
1. Morning Guitar
2. The Wave
3. Dance the Spell Off
4. Crater Laugh
5. Rider Storm
7. Atoms Falling
8. The Riven Sun
9. Blue Chamber
10. Helio Gap
FOR FANS OF: Ilyas Ahmed, Mount Eerie, Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, Benoît Pioulard, Gravenhurst, Mark Hollis