Last review, I talked about Grails's excellent mini-album, Take Refuge in Clean Living. I mentioned its mellowness, and one of you fine readers informed me that if I liked that record, then i simply must check out the solo album by Zak Riles. I would like to extend a gracious "thank you" to the person who told me that, because this solo record is a nice compendium to Grails' heavier side. For his solo work, Riles mainly eschews the heavier side of Grails, focusing on the softer side. Don’t think it’s less dark because it’s easier on the ears; Riles can still conjure up a disturbing, dark atmosphere—he just uses different methods. Like on “Res Extensa,” he uses vibes and what sounds like a mandolin to create an atmosphere that makes me think of the scene in The Shining where the family is running away from the axe-wielding father. But the record provides many moments of quiet meditation; I’m really fond of the one-two punch of "Pacific Siren" and "Confluence"—two songs that simply draw you in with their beauty. Both songs are not unlike James Blackshaw, but both are original in their own way. My favorite, though, is "Chloe," which is a beautiful song tempered by the sound of thunder. It almost feels like an instrumental love song, because the melody simply feels warm and loving. For those who like Grails, this is an interesting and wonderful little sidebar. I hope Mr. Riles makes some more solo records—this one is superb….
Listen To: "Chloe"
Zak Riles is available now on Important Records
Labels: important records, reviews r, Zak Riles