[reviews] afe097lcd
mathieu ruhlmann: the earth grows in each of us

connexion bizarre []
webzine, portugal, october 2008

The Canadian musician Mathieu Ruhlmann was initially creating visual arts based on found materials and secondly began composing experimental ambient soundtracks to accompany these pieces. This CD was already released in 2007, so reaches us rather late, and was recorded during 2006, the year Ruhlmann turned 30.

"The Earth Grows In Each of Us" contains five tracks of significant lengths; the first four being one, nine, seven and six minutes respectively to refer to the composer's year of birth and the closer being an epic thirty minutes.

With this significant landmark in mind and the birth of his first son, the theme of regeneration of the life cycle was the main inspiration for this new album, contrasted against the ever present threat of death as his sister narrowly survived a serious road accident.

The neat card folder to the CD lists a wide range of instruments and sounds used in the recording of the album, many being found materials as used in Ruhlmann's visual artworks, such as wasps, sea foam, tiles, a tree branch and stones. Listening to the album it is soon clear that all these various sound sources are used very subtly, and few are easily recognisable.

The album is extremely consistent as a whole, although changes from one track to the next are very slight, almost to be unnoticed. So gentle and subtle the whole album is, melancholy and meditative, but rarely threatening or sinister, it has a tendency to fade into the background and could be criticised for being slightly uneventful. This seems unfair in this line of work, and listening intently with headphones brings greater rewards as the various elements in the slowly developing pieces become more apparent.

The opener "Sunrings in the Ritual House" is maybe the darkest minute of the disc, with deeper drones and mysterious voices, before "Eschenau, 1976" brings a ponderous loop with quiet chimes and a slightly too close feeling.

"Elegy For Ivan Generaliç" has a repetitive yet touching piano melody and watery washes in the background, while "All Will Grow Young Again" takes a slightly more broken and dishevelled approach.

Finally, the epic closer, "Holding Light" offers a pleasant blend of soothing synths over creeping and russling found sounds, growing slowly to grander movements suggesting wider spaces. A very pleasant listen at bedtime then, but slightly frustrating to the listener demanding more happenings and variation.

[Nathan Clemence]