Win Tickets ($40): Emma Ruth Rundle @ Revolution Hall | w/ Patrick Shiroishi
We are giving away a pair of tickets to Emma Ruth Rundle @ Revolution Hall on March 26. To win, comment below on this post why you’d like to attend. Winner will be drawn and emailed March 20.
From our sponsors:
Emma Ruth Rundle
March 26, 2023
Doors 7PM, Show 8PM | $20 | All Ages
More info: event.etix.com
1300 SE Stark St., Portland, OR
“I don’t know what to reveal about this album,” Emma Ruth Rundle responds when pressed to talk about her latest record, the stark, intimate, and unflinching Engine of Hell. “I feel like I want to be left alone for a little bit… it doesn’t feel like it’s time to wave the ‘look at me’ flag.” It’s an understandable position given the heavy lyrical content of the record and the naked and exposed nature of the accompanying music. Even the most cursory listen of the album is sure to elicit some questions. Rundle has opted to forego the full-band arrangements of her last two albums—Marked For Death and On Dark Horses—in favor of the austerity of a lone piano or guitar and her voice, putting every word under the microscope. Engine of Hell was recorded almost entirely live with minimal overdubs, and the effect is an extremely up-close and personal confessional with an ASMR-level focus on the rich subtleties and timbre of Rundle’s graceful performances. Much like Nick Drake’s Pink Moon or Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green, Engine of Hell captures a moment where a masterful songwriter strips away all flourishes and embellishments in order to make every note and word hit with maximum impact. But it’s also a record that leaves little to hide behind.
Emma Ruth Rundle has always been a multifaceted musician, equally capable of dreamy abstraction (as heard on her debut album Electric Guitar: One), maximalist textural explorations (see her work in Marriages, Red Sparowes, or Nocturnes), and the classic acoustic guitar singer-songwriter tradition (exemplified by Some Heavy Ocean). But on Engine of Hell, Rundle focuses on an instrument that she left behind in her early twenties when she began playing in bands: the piano. In combination with her voice, the piano playing on Engine of Hell creates a kind of intimacy, as if we’re sitting beside Rundle on the bench, or perhaps even playing the songs ourselves. “I really wanted to capture imperfection and the vulnerability of my humanity,” Rundle says of the album’s sonic approach. “In some small way, there is this tiny punk rock feel of ‘well, fuck this perfect, polished, produced, and rehearsed thing that we are so pressured to do. Here are some very personal songs; here are my memories; here is me teetering on the very edge of sanity dipping my toe into the outer reaches of space and I’m taking you with me and it’s very fucked up and imperfect.’”
Engine of Hell is a potent album, and it may prove too emotionally overwhelming for fans of a more anodyne brand of songwriting. But for anyone that’s endured trauma and grief, there’s a beautiful solace in hearing Emma Ruth Rundle articulate and humanize that particular type of pain not only with her words, but with that particular mysterious language of melody and timbre.