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Lessening

by Ralph Kinsella

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1.
2.
T(h)reads 04:47
3.
Suffuse 05:58
4.
Gallows Hill 06:28
5.
11207 03:38
6.
Lung Noises 07:05
7.
Violet 04:34
8.
9.
Residue 03:18
10.

about

Scottish guitarist and electronic music producer Ralph Kinsella has mentioned his affection for "the poetics of the bedroom." He's referring to this intimate location as ideal for listening and, as in his case, suitable for music creation. A pronounced feeling is present — warm and flowing, lonely but transportive. This is distant travel in a small room, a concept closely tied to Kinsella's debut album, Lessening.

Imagined distance is a luxury during lockdown, as Kinsella composed and recorded Lessening's ten evocative tracks during 2020's extended confinement. One can easily hear hints of detachment and melancholy within remarkable songs like "Gallows Hill". But these sit alongside beauty and hope — there's a sense of these songs projecting better worlds, ones we want to live in for a while. 

Ralph Kinsella hails from the dual-named Dumfries and Galloway, which he describes as a "liminal, fringe space … where rural and (semi-rural) Scotland uncomfortably meet urban areas." It's a landscape, famous as a primary filming location for The Wicker Man, which influences Kinsella's music as a familiarity that hides secrets. "The boondocks, interspersed with fragments of debris and flickering housing scheme street lights. These places (and the artistic exploration of these places) suffuse my work."

With a background in "mostly lo-fi rock" bands, Kinsella's sonic path shifted after a teenage encounter with Sweden's experimental Häpna imprint and frequent visits to Glasgow's Monorail Records. He continues to explore the musical outer reaches, citing Elaine Radigue, Francis Dhomont, Loren Conners, and Cucina Povera as current obsessions. But, Kinsella also appreciates the guiding nudge of subtle accessibility. Lessening pits abstract against structure and the melodic against the opaque.

Kinsella's guitar is the even thread, sometimes bare and then often processed, awash in texture and synthetic glares. Tracks like "In the In-Between Light" use the guitar to express enormity — of space and emotion — before the song is gently brought close by calming lines and reassuring synth patches. There's also a soft tension in songs like "Lung Noises," sharing the masterful slow build of the shoegaze genre's finest practitioners. Lessening's closer, "Born on the Cusp," offers a resolution — chiming guitars and reverberant tones signaling both loss and promise. This is the sound of an uncertain present feeling its way to that better world. 

credits

released October 23, 2020

Cover art by Matthew Naquin (San Mateo). → www.thesanmateo.com

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Ralph Kinsella Scotland, UK

Scottish guitarist, composer and electronic musician Ralph Kinsella sculpts a unique balance of ambient music through organic analog sounds and digital manipulation. The result is an immersive journey through landscapes and musical conversations that capture his world, and warp it. ... more

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