Note: The nature of this ‘debut’ record by Ricky Eat Acid is beyond words, so I just wanted to apologize now for my feeble attempts to try and explain things. Listening to Three Love Songs is like reliving so many different memories I forgot existed. It sort of feels like an out of body experience at times, full of existential questions about life and time, merging with the depth of dream-like scores and ornate ambiance.
I suppose you could say that some people, societies, etcetera, exist either ahead or behind the recurring nature of time. And yet I feel like I’m in some everlasting attempt to be caught somewhere between quite a few different eras. So, here I am at the library, sitting in the empty space of this little glass enclosed room, listening to the noisy hand on a clock tick by, staring at a floating baby blue piece of art spinning around in circles in front of me. Freshly opened from the mail, Ricky Eat Acid’s newest release, Three Love Songs, is laid out sprawled in front of me: the cover, tracklist, some oolong tea, a piece of melon candy, a photograph taken by the artist, and a thank you note from Brooklyn’s independent label Orchid Tapes…
Soon, the needle softly drops onto the vinyl. The static in my headphones blends into a deeply telling paragraph of spoken word, backed by a faint wind-like hum carrying nostalgic and warm atmospheric crackles that flicker of both light and dark universal sounds. The spoken words reach out “there is only you in the light and nothing else,” at the end of the album’s introductory track. All reinforce the feelings of remembering something that you love, but also something that hurts from time to time.
“Driving alone past roadwork at night” follows the similar vibes of the sounds before, with an emphasis on more lively and content spirits. It is as if you are floating with your own set of whims and dreams different from that of the environment surrounding you. Overtaken by contrasting and ominous pressure, hardness, and forcefulness luring the contentment away, the song seems to be over just as quickly as it began, transporting you back into reality once more. Though, you are still left with a final glimpse of light.
This next track reminds me of a little lost bat in a warm cave— dodging little drips of water and learning how to use echolocation powers for the first time— flying slowly past stalactites, shooting little soundwaves at them and getting surprised when they quickly pop back. At the end, it feels like the little bat was not lost after all, just taking the long way home to the other end of the cave.
The fourth track, “Big man’s last trip outside,” is also very sincere and earnest. At the beginning there are repetitive lines and nuances of notes and chimes, almost like little hints of familiar dreams and faces of people who haven’t been seen for a while. Everything seems very effortless and calming like sitting on a porch or going on a long walk with somebody and catching up with them as wind chimes echo in the background.
Eerie and spiritual, “In rural virginia; watching glowing lights crawl from the dark corners of the room”, casts an air of free rebellion as this track cycles back the rigidness felt towards the end of the second track. An assertive sermon is juxtaposed against an ambrosial flow, which soon emerges from the surroundings. As if in combat, the focus shifts between the elaborate scenery and the preacher’s words – though neither can be named victorious in the end.
Shooting into, “Inside your house, it will swallow us too,” you are transported yet again to a place of great warmth, with piano lines in the background bringing up memories of things once overlooked— much like exploring an old attic and reliving some memories, but also imagining some new ones for old knick knacks and bobbles.
“It will draw me over to it like it always does” establishes an eerie sense of something new and then unexpectedly transcends the listener to an effervescent location that’s perfectly variant from anything felt before. The female vocals are soulful and uncanny, almost dissonant to the twinkling subdued piano. The rhythms in the background, layered with strong percussion abruptly finish as if it was all nothing but a vision or memory, leaves the piano standing all alone.
Placing the needle down for side B, I soon realize we are headed into another effervescent setting as the words echoing, “my only wish is I die real” are built into different lavish textures developing a lovely house-like atmosphere fading into perfect distortion and chords.
“God puts us all in the swimming pool” really struck me as something beautifully antithetic. A lush torrent of a submerged and flowing waltz of sounds floats between cyclic warbling vocals and keys.
The tenth track brings up numerous different memories with its several false endings. “Outside your house; the lights went out & there was nothing” feels very much like getting lost in a forest or on a path and finding several different dead ends. At the beginning, it leads with a very energetic pseudo-house motivated vibe. Transparent hits are placed over a driven, pulsating, surge of percussion, crackling, piano lines, and distortion, where everything eclipses until the piano takes precedence. Then all of a sudden, a distorted female voice is heard, uttering a few incoherent phrases that fade into the end of a very orchestral based and compelling segment. No longer lost and having found the way home, the final piece of this track is beautifully melodic, encapsulating, and complimentary to its true ending.
Humble choruses, chords, and a repeating melody in “I can hear the heart breaking as one” are like a wave, playing off of the sentimental feel of the last track. The current moves the listener towards an all-familiar place, the end, or the beginning, whatever you’d like to call it.
“Starting over” is very vibrant, bubbly, and explorative. Even though this piece few small allusions to past songs and fights the feel of an end, it has its own incredible brightness and lucidity reflective of a new future.
When I was little, my dad used to tell me that the trail stemming from the park across the street from my house would go on forever. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I have been out on that narrowing gravel path, however, I do remember the handful of times I wanted to find the end. With my bike and my thoughts, I started pedaling watching the houses blend into a church that blends into a cemetery, and everything soon after blends into forests, brooks, and fields of wheat or wildflowers. I used to have this thing where I would count the number of bunnies I saw, or stop to climb an awesome tree, or follow a deer or tall bird if I saw one. The hours would pass quickly, I could be 20 some miles out but I would watch the sun in the sky and make sure to be home by sunset. Except for one day, I went out for far too long and darkness overwhelmed me. Helplessly watching the blue sky turn navy and then black, a pack of coyotes howled as a haunting eerie and phantom-like scream of a baby bunny filled the air. I remember just making it home in time to escape those endless sounds. The next morning it seemed the universe responded to my saddened thoughts and I saw more bunnies than I could count. This is just one of the memories that surfaced while listening. It could partially be due to this on continual replay in the back of my head, but more so it is due to the pure extensiveness of and evolvement of Ricky Eat Acid as a producer/artist/person.
Three Love Songs is 44 minutes and 26 seconds long but it somehow feels far too short and somehow much longer than roughly thirty seconds short of ¾ of an hour. It’s as if the record possesses its own rules of time and space, wherever I find myself it continuously feels like a different memory or dreamscape.
Overall, Three Love Songs is an incredibly commendable demonstration of virtuosity and phenomena by Maryland’s own Sam Ray, and I cannot wait to see what else he and Ricky Eat Acid have in store for the world.
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