Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
There is a light about the songs that Jenny Logan and Sam Roudman make as the Brooklyn-based band Ribbons. It's a soft light, as if the glow could be made less from power generators, turbines or windmills, but more as if it could be made upon the touch of a heavy, coated arm laying itself across your slumped shoulders and pulling you closer. As soon as the arm falls down across those sloped bones, butting against the back of the neck and curving slightly around it, like a staple, that's when there's a sudden surge in wattage and it sends some kind of shiver that escapes through the pores and hair follicles. It's a light of subtle tones, streaking out like loud penlights popping off in the dark night - one here and one there, both gone and then back with reinforcements. It's as if those penlights aren't run on batteries and bulbs though, but wick and fire - tiny candlelights, easily manipulated and able to produce more of a richer, feltier orangey yellow color. Logan and Roudman set down this generally consistent feeling of foreboding, or a tepid world closing in for a shove or a jab, leaning in to breath eerily upon the back of your head, messing up your combing temporarily, giving the sensation that the microwave exhaust were blowing out against you. It's as if there's a feeling out, like no one's going to make the first move until seeing those whites of those eyes or until thoroughly provoked to protect. There is so much calm in the stressfulness that lurks in the words that Logan writes, coming to the faces of all the frightening pictures that she finds herself running through collage style, one after another, creating a wall of darkened, brooding sound that doesn't go away when someone closes their eyes tightly. It's inside Ribbons music where we feel comfortable to find ourselves new ways of survival, maybe taking some of Logan's suggestions, like this one in the beautiful and haunting (well, they all are like that) song, "Love Is Mysterious." She sings, "We'll survive/Cause we know how to hide," and it's clear that there is an aversion to some of the drama that is the spine of the dramatic effect that Logan packs into the band's sometimes depressing, but brutally honest and relatable songs - relatable in the way that we all sometimes think, while crossing a bridge, what it would actually be like to fall off of it, or what it would be like to just drive your car into a hulking boulder or building. There are characters who leave each other to die - or not die, is more likely - and at that point there needs to be some new kind of acceptance, some digestion of the lights and the things seen by those lights in the midst of such dark times. What we see and what we hear there is are a host and hostess who will sever all of their ties if they need to. They will do all of the things that they must do to make it to the next mysterious and scary situation, also likely to involve a couple of people just not understanding one another, making the relationship harder than it needs to be and finding protection in the arms of those candled arms, laid upon their sloping shoulders.