Review Summary: A beautiful atmospheric patchwork; from beginning to end, "Three Love Songs" forms like an anthology but flows regardless.
Ricky Eat Acid’s Three Love Songs
opens on first listen as an ambient record with six tracks and eighteen minutes of episodic sound evocations typical of the genre’s more atmospheric, less rhythm oriented side. That’s not to say that they’re not brilliantly done, but on first listen they’re essentially just six tracks of unfamiliar sonic motifs. Nevertheless, Three Love Songs
is an ambient record and answers at this stage have yet to become clear: the question becomes whether or not there is meaning to be found within producer Sam Ray’s ungrounded, surreal soundscapes.
And then you hit track seven.
The mysteriously titled “It will draw me over to it like it always does” shifts from a gentle, airy foundation and light footed piano into a house song, and yet it’s so natural. It’s almost like watching a close-up of a young girl’s hand slip onto that of the lonely boy in a tearjerker movie: a subtle gesture of explosive emotional impact. Furthermore, it throws your impression of Three Love Songs
out the window. By the point of arrival at “It will draw me”, Ray has made no attempt to indicate that a dance-oriented climax is approaching other than the fact that nothing has hit with any less subtlety than the total ambiguity of the preceding tracks; the lingering anticipation for the album to burst. And as “It will draw me” fades away, “In my dreams we’re almost touching” follows as another house track with bumping, positively dance-inducing rhythmic hypnotism that builds and builds and then fades away under an obscuring, crackly haze.
But, of course, this is all retrospective: the two-song dance centrepiece of Three Love Songs
initially does not make sense being there on first listen and before you know it, it’s gone beneath the shimmering melancholy vocal sample on “God puts us all in a swimming pool”. The album’s last four tracks are of equal length to the aforementioned opening six, effectively book-ending “It will draw me” and “In my dreams”. Despite their low-key aura, however, they’re ten times more eventful, carrying the percussion-driven opening to “Outside your house; the lights went out & there was nothing”, the unbelievably haunting layering of “I can hear the heart breaking as one”, and the transcendental blip-blops of closer “Starting over”. With that, Three Love Songs
ends, but the well thought-out nature of the album is revealed at its close. It transitions through three movements, beginning with the album drifting in a dream (tracks 1-6) before finding its footing (tracks 7-8) and then sort of combining the two approaches as it ends (tracks 9-12), dealing in builds and winds and climaxes for an expansive and expressive adventure contained in ambient music. Suddenly, structure gives the instrumentation meaning.
I wish I could say that the oral journey I’ve just dictated came to me across the course of my first listen; that my impression of the album changed from “just esoteric ambient” to “esoteric ambient with dreamy bangers” to “beautifully structured and fully realized” as I made my way through the album’s three controlled bursts. The truth is it took me about three or four runs of intensely focused listening to absorb every song and discover what they collectively form as Three Love Songs
. The album is a testament to perseverance in listening to music and the fullness provided by a well constructed full length album: Three Love Songs
was made to engulf the audience for forty-five minutes. And in that, even the most seemingly aimless tracks on the record culminate into a collective effort that reveals a flattering truth about Sam Ray: the album was a vision. For all its inane motifs and atmospheres that were no doubt little more than flashes of sound in Ray’s writing process, he crafts from them a record that truly means
something. From there, the audience takes it and does with it what is always done with abstract art, ambient music especially: they decide for themselves what that meaning is.