On his debut album Interno, Ryan Francesconi (aka Rf) poured out a remarkable little debut album of organic/electronic music that bubbled with life and was the perfect soundtrack to a late night or an early morning. While this second release Falls moves in many of the same ways, it also takes tiny steps forward in terms of confidence and song construction, pushing it even further forward than the debut and making this a must-have for fans of quiet, yet very emotive music.
One of the main steps up in terms of composition on Falls is the use of more stringed instruments. While the unique electronic manipulations (largely programmed by Francesconi himself) are still one of the main draws, it's the strings and vocals that really help to fill things out and give the release even more depth. The disc opens with the two-part album-titled "Falls," and the two tracks are subtle variations on the same theme as manipulated female vocals float through the ether while an absolutely stunning string arrangement stirs the second section to new heights.
"Fifth" mixes gurgling rhythms alongside a pretty guitar melody as once again strings rise and provide a lovely crescendo while "Mopmu" runs things through an even heavier digital palette, stretching the quiet spots for a great tension before bursting with warm electronics, filtered horns, vocals, and more strings. As I mentioned in my review of Interno, the great things about this music aren't the quick changes in dynamics or anything else so forseeable. The beauty really does lie within the attention to detail and all the small things that are going on within each track. There are human breathes here and there that pop into the mix and ocassionally everything drops out to nothing but a field recording.
At even other points, the album moves into a more songlike feel (as on the panning blips and ethereal vocals of "Imaginary"), but the small changes never feel forced. The 2 and a half minute string movement of "Internal Notes 6 (1)" is practically worth the price of admission alone. Over the course of 14 tracks and 65 minutes, there are a myriad of wonderful moments and the album itself feels like the perfect soundtrack to watching rolling fields pass by out the window of a train. It's peaceful without being cheesy and touching without being obviously cloying. Recommended for fans of Múm and others who aren't afraid to make more with less.