It was 2012 when I discovered Ry X through my favorite – sorry, Mike and Dimi – DJ duo Âme. When Frank (Wiedemann) and Kristian (Beyer) released a fantastic remix of Howling. I got blown away in a way rarely another track had done before. I couldn’t get enough of that tenor voice combined with those beats and would listen to it ten times straight. Till today I’m cherishing this track very fondly. Hearing it – at home, in my car or in a club – still gives me a pretty unparalleled pleasure. One that comes quite close to the sensation experienced whilst performing the horizontal tango. The dance. Of course.
But so I discovered Ry X (° 1988), an Australian singer-songwriter with a surfer background who’s now living in Los Angeles. An artist as well who sometimes gets compared to the likes of James Blake, Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver. There are worse examples to be compared with. When I was younger I got compared once to Sam Gooris, a Belgian singer. The poor Sam is still trying to recover.
Kicking off his career with a self-titled – and not at all representative for his later work – album under his real name Ry Cuming, he caught the world’s attention with the mentioned Howling release in 2012 and with his Berlin EP in 2013. The song with the same name went hugely viral and got featured in a Sony ad.
In the meantime our man on a working mission formed the electro group The Acid together with veteran Adam Freeland and Los Angeles producer Steve Nalepa. They released the album Liminal in 2014.
2016 saw the release of Dawn, a full album by Ry X, containing both a number of previous releases as well as new songs.
The concert (Arenberg, Antwerp, 29/11/2016)
A glance at the crowd at the wonderful Arenberg venue made it pretty clear: Ry X’s audience largely consists of utterly loveable people. People who will improve the world. Couples planning to share a romantic evening. Fans who know all of Ry X’s lyrics by heart. I definitely was at the right spot for some warmth on this cold december evening. A fair bit of cuddling was surely in the works. Needless to say that my two friends and me didn’t have any time to lose in order to provide the right example. At the local photo booth.
Having taken our seats, we only had to wait a short while before Ry X and his band (cello, violin, keyboard and drums/percussions/piano) hit the stage. The concert kicked off with the breathtaking Shortline. A perfect opening track that right away set the tone for the remainder of the concert: ridiculous amounts of sheer emotion through that amazing voice and those heartfelt lyrics, warmth and hooks via violin and cello, delivered on a bed of electronics and completed by fine percussion. Not to mention the subtle light show and Ry’s guitar playing.
And so this became a dreamlike concert, albeit a rather short (9 songs) one. I couldn’t help but feeling that this was appropriate. More of the same and boredom would have crept in for me. Despite the beauty of the songs and their execution, by the time we were nearing the end, I’d started thinking about a previous performance of Ry X. The one as Howling (with Frank Wiedemann) in Antwerp (2015). A gig where emotion and electronic music really connected. Where heart and the urge to dance went hand in hand. I was ecstatic at that moment. A feeling which I didn’t fully experience this time.
Then again, all of this is just a personal view, Ry X and his band delivered an absolutely captivating concert. Closing my eyes and letting me drift away on the gorgeous subtlety that was being served was heaven. Consolation and a beacon of beauty in darker times. Salt, the second track into the set, was a highlight straight away, as well thanks to the inventive percussion and that ‘The Notwist’ – like piano. Sweat, with Ry starting in the most vulnerable way possible on guitar, developed into a threatening film like experience. Berlin never fails to touch the heart and Deliverance raised the pace. The new darker song that was performed hinted at Moderat and Howling is never less than wonderful. Lean was another highlight, one in which all instruments – and the percussion in particular – could shine. Bis song Only was painstakingly beautiful.
A fine performance it truly was, I could only spot smiling and happy faces after the concert. Including mine (I verified it in a mirror). Ry X and the band managed to touch us once more. Now it’s time though to move on and to get some new and preferably surprising work out. Can’t wait for that to happen.
Photo credits: Patsie Borgers / Motherlovemusic Muziekmagazine
The set list
- < new song >
- Only (bis)