WaterTrain By Edward Ruchalski
The ideal introduction to the world of one of the most under- appreciated contemporary sound artists, in our humble opinion. For the last ten years he has been creating sound installations, motorized string and percussion instruments and playable percussive sculptures, resulting in a soundworld that is personal, intuitive, mystical, and wholly uncategorizable. This special release is Ruchalski’s response to our proposition of releasing a remastered single-disc collection of tracks form his two albums “Moveable Sites” (2002) and “Radio Journal” (2004), and we are exceptionally happy with the results! More people NEED to hear Ruchalski’s music! "WaterTrain" also contain two brand-new tracks and one from “Refined Localities parts 2-4” (Firstperson, 3” CD-R). The CD comes with a booklet of photography of some of his instruments, and liner notes by Ed Pinsent of the excellent Sound Projector Magazine. Digipack, edition of 500.
"New York composer Ruchalski uses his own self-made instruments, modified music boxes and field recordings to construct mysterious evocations of alien environments. "WaterTrain" compiles tracks from three previous CD-Rs, adding two new pieces. There's a hint of Partch in the opverlapping metallic overtones and sense of ritual, but there's a darker sensibility present here too, with certain passages recalling Coil's "How To Destroy Angels" or 23 Skidoo's proto-Isolationist gamelan experiments on "The Culling Is Coming". But whereas those rites unfold in dark interior spaces, Ruchalski's are more like private nature rituals, in which a palpable sense of the elemental power of the natural world is created by the care and simplicity with which he deploys environmental sound. The results are quite beautiful." -- Keith Moliné, The Wire
"Edward Ruchalski may be no stranger to Foxy Digitalis readers, with his 2004 "Dark Night" having been released on Foxglove. "WaterTrain", his newest release on the Humbug label, is actually a compilation, gathering pieces from "Radio Journal", "Refined Localities parts 2-4" (both 2004), and "Moveable Sites" (2002), as well as 2 new tracks. In spite of this, it’s an amazingly coherent work, and plays with a singular vision that belies its previous incarnations.
Based out of Syracuse, NY, Ruchalski is something of musical innovator, as much of the sound on "WaterTrain" is generated by self-built instruments, a couple of which are displayed beautifully in the album’s artwork. Just as the instruments look archaic, slightly creepy, and fantastical, Ruchalski’s compositions float in a dream-like world just out of tangible reach, oscillating between comfort and fear.
Most of the tracks here begin with natural ambience; Ruchalski has, to quote Ed Pinsent’s short essay included in the record’s jacket, “placed microphones in found objects (bottles, pipes or hollow trees), to produce field recordings that focus on resonance.” Layered atop these droning soundscapes are bells, chimes, and slowly plucked piano notes. While much of the music here sounds improvised, vague hints of melody peep out every so often, due largely to the self-perpetuatory nature of Ruchalski’s instruments. It’s disorienting at times, like waking up wind chimes blowing in a night storm, but soothing and healing at
Ruchalski has said he wants listeners to create their own narratives to his music, and his music does indeed conjure a fair amount of visual imagery. While many listeners will liken this record to movie soundtrack territory, "WaterTrain" rewards listeners willing to devote an almost meditative concentration to it, unfolding layer upon layer of sound, ultimately plotting out a landscape familiar but forgotten. That these songs could have been written anywhere, anytime point to a universality that Ruchalski has managed to tap into. "WaterTrain" serves as a good place for listeners to start exploring his discography, and should one day be recognized as a fine example of innovate 21st century composition." 9/10 -- Jon Pitt (18 June, 2008)