Bill Ryder-Jones: If…

album art by Sadie Harding

A concept soundtrack album accompanying the screenplay never written on a book about reading a book.

Turned off yet?

Don’t let the description or the first listen scare you away. If… is an absolutely beautiful album spanning genres from classical to psychadelic and folk and has taken up about 70% of my listening time for the past few weeks.

Ryder-Jones marvelously incorporates the Liverpool Philharmonic through a variety of perfectly minimal string-laden arrangements interspersed with the type of subdued folk rock on which I typically rely to get me through a long Michigan winter.

While magically painting the subconscious post-war European themes, this soundtrack plays just as easily with the monochromatic view out my February window.

What I really love about it is that although it’s melancholy it isn’t stagnant. The music moves more like a river than a pond and its movement avoids the error of anti-climax that is all too common in quiet music.

This record gets there, but you have to take your time.

If you need instant gratification from new music you won’t find it here… Like most great albums it takes an ample investment on the part of the listener. Give it four or five plays all the way through and you’ll soon find it difficult to find anything else as satisfying.

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