Et Ret is a one-man musical project that combines electric and acoustic guitar work with layers of swirling strings from violin and cello. The whole thing is topped off with subtle and sparse uses of percussion and analogue electronics, and sometimes calls to mind the somber work of Dirty Three, while at others sounding like Kopernik, an overlooked contemporary who also uses strings and electronics in gorgeous ways.
In a world where many groups rely on cacophony and huge crescendos to make their point, Et Ret seems downright understated, and for the most part it is. While the album uses dissonance in places, it never relies on sheer force, instead lulling you along with repeated phrases and quiet shifts to keep things interesting. "The First Day (Marveling)" opens the release with pulsing organ chords before layers of strings swoop in and smoothly carry the track forward. "The Need For Work" follows, and it's one of the more intense tracks on the disc, moving with a dark set of guitar phrases that tangle with one another before spitting out coils of dissonance while strings saw away. It sounds like a spaghetti western soundtrack gone feral, and it works quite well.
After a couple more tracks that are slightly rough and tumble, there's a clear shift in the disc on the fluttering electronics, strings, and quiet guitars of "Apokalyptein" before "Won By Walking" arrives as easily one of the best tracks on the disc. It's also the track where the Dirty Three references seem the most apt, but the guitar work is more focused than the painterly work of Mick Turner and the violins loop over one another and seem to tighten more and more as the track moves through its short running length.
The album closes out with "Letting Go Of The Balloon" and it seems to best capture all the things about Gasworks that make it unique. Opening with shimmering organ tones, it peaks ever so gradually with simple percussion and dense layering of strings that shift and slide around one other. As with other tracks on the disc, it never peaks in a way that one might expect, but weaves a spell by sucking you in with hypnotic melodies and tugging you along gently from there. For fans of any of the aforementioned, or even the quieter moments of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Et Ret is worth checking out.