While I wouldn’t consider myself any sort of aficionado, I like acoustic music, mellow, introspective, or ‘doom folk’ as it’s now known, as much as the next guy. In my old age, I’ll often throw it on, late in the evening, after the wife & kids are asleep, while I’m drawing, painting, or writing. These days, after a long day at work, where I’m generally blasting stoner, doom, or some sort of metal or rock & roll all day long, it’s cool to decompress and cleanse the sonic palette into the nighttime hours.
With that, I was curious about Aerial Ruin, the solo acoustic project of Portland Oregon’s prolific Erik Moggridge, who evidently is a collaborator with Bell Witch, as well as another Oregon-based musician Stevie Floyd, she of Dark Castle. Aerial Ruin’s latest Loss Seeking Flame mostly scratches the itch of what one wants in this type of dark, doomy acoustic approach. I will say, the two words that pop into my mind immediately with Loss Seeking Flame are epic and LONG. Like, really long. If an artist’s approach to their work is to present it in a stark, bare-bones manner with only a voice and an acoustic guitar, then you had better hope you can hold your listener’s attention, especially when your songs are over five minutes in length.
Opener Where Sky Lays Buried gets the record off to a good start as Moggridge’s desolate, melancholy notes ring true, as his voice floats over his guitar for a nice, emotive impact. Moggridge switches up his playing enough throughout to hold the listener’s attention. He also incorporates some nice vocal harmonizing that really gives the song a soaring quality.
Thus Bound In Page however drifts off into late 60s/early 70s acoustic folk territory, most evident in Moggridge’s vocal delivery. As well, while there’s some nice, delicate, acoustic guitar work, the track goes on and on, losing any initial impact and momentum. Playing the same twinkly notes for over five minutes may work for some, but for this reviewer, I found this song to be a folky slog.
note choices hit with maximum, melancholic impact, and his vocals reach that ethereal level…
The Flames Intent mostly stays in the aforementioned acoustic-folk territory, but Moggridge offers slightly darker notes, giving this track a deeper, melancholy feel. Hints of violin are also heard, and Moggridge displays some excellent vocal work, as his voice floats, and harmonizes, ethereal-like over the top. The Flames Intent kept me engaged, more so than Thus Bound In Page but, again, this song is long at over seven minutes. Alas, lest the listener thinks Moggridge will cut it down some, he follows The Flames Intent with the enormous, twenty-one-plus-minute closer Ideation.
Moggridge really does display some beautiful sparse, introspective, emotive guitar playing. His note choices hit with maximum, melancholic impact, and his vocals reach that ethereal level. Some synth effects add to the epic-ness, as does the fact, where at almost nine minutes, Moggridge switches it up some, building his wall of synth, before washing back down to his sparse, acoustic notes. As we slowly, wind our way to the close, a somber violin is introduced, adding a nice accent to Moggridge’s note choices. And, thus we remain, as the song slowly fades out…
I don’t know. Aerial Ruin’s Loss Seeking Flame is most certainly a good acoustic, doom-folk record. Moggridge’s guitar playing, note choices, vocal harmonies, and introspective lyrics are all top-notch, but holy shit, even at forty-three minutes, it feels a lot longer. I mean, a voice and an acoustic guitar, no matter how good, is going to be a lot to ask for a listener to hold their attention with tracks running over five minutes, especially when there’s not much else going on instrument-wise, and the artist is just hitting the same notes and delivering in the same cadence as Moggridge did with Thus Bound In Page.
I found Loss Seeking Flame to be simultaneously really good, and a bit of an acoustic slog. I can’t help but wonder if this record would’ve checked all the acoustic-doom-folk boxes for me if some of the songs were shorter. Nonetheless, it’s a nice listen, and I imagine that I’ll revisit it again in my late-evening, sonic-palette-cleansing, creative endeavors.
Scribed by: Martin Williams