Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There are just some people you can't help but be amazed with. You could spend hours trying to figure them out, attempting to figure out how their brains work, how it's possible that they would have thought to do those things that they did, how they would have put it all together. It's one of those things that you'd like to think would happen with music more often than it does. It's not to say that such a statement is a knock on most music and its writers, because even a great pop song - predictable and bouncy, put together in a formulaic way - can be a thing of absolute genius. A turn of phrase, even just a short one or one out of a thousand mediocre or been-done phrases, can be so delicious that, upon sight, it might actually trigger the watering of the mouth. We're talking here about the very, very different brain that makes the kind of sound collages and intricate slabs of electronic music that Christina Ryat and Tim Conley of RYAT make in Philadelphia. We cannot help but feel beside ourselves, incapable of even coming close to giving any kind of specificity to their workings. We don't know what they're doing and we couldn't very well tell you how they do it. We aren't sure where they're coming from or where they're taking anything. Usually, with most people, you have some nice jumping off points, but RYAT music is something singular and something that belongs nowhere within any preexisting context that we might have. "Avant Gold," their latest record is as if a million records were left out in the current Texas or Oklahoman sunshine for a few days and they all melted together to produce a hot, gooey pool. It's knitting work done by some very capable and adventurous hands. Ryat sings like a woman from the cabaret, from a speakeasy - someone who steps outside into light and is knocked back, unaware that it was no longer night, unaware that she was no longer safe under the guise of nighttime. "Time Worn" is a song that separates us from our bearings, that gives us a chance to see how it feels to be weightless, floating through the air with birds, knives and lightning showers. A friend from out of town asked the other day if the locusts here are always this loud, gesturing toward a tree that was screeching and buzzing with the noises of the creatures. I told him that I didn't really notice it, but now, today, I'm thinking that wherever RYAT is might be where the locusts are the loudest and here's betting that they don't hear the clatter either. If they do, it's just inspiration of the highest form. It's what soothes them and it's there, in that sea of agitated stimulation, where they feel whole.