Review: City Rain – Light Turned On

For his first album Philadelphia resident Ben Runyan has sought to balance melodic electronica with acoustic simplicity and human emotion. It’s a tricky combination but one in which the likes of Four Tet and The Notwist have made in to an art form. Possibly not equipped with same instruments at his disposal as his contemporaries, Runyan has to rely on mundane objects like jingling keys and handling dishes. All things considered, I’d say he’s done a fine job of delivering a fascinating album.

City Rain CD Cover

After a rather over-complicated beginning, ‘Back On Track’ employs glitchy beats to deliver a surprisingly bright and sunny tune. Of course, the key to a record like this is the ability to deliver melodies. Runyan is adept at this but on the first couple of listens ‘Light Turned On’ sounded removed from humanity. However, once I got beyond the layers of digital trickery, there’s clearly some warmth underneath. ‘Mia’ conveys faraway beauty, ‘Well You Said’, ‘Click Clack’ and ‘Philaedlphia’ are further excellent offerings thanks to their mysterious, melancholic synth lines. It’s no coincidence that all these tracks are uncluttered, stylistically simplistic and ultimately more involving than some of Runyan’s earlier efforts. ‘Light Turned On’ therefore comes well recommended for those who enjoyed recent efforts by Boltfish labelmates David Newlyn and Line Noise.

Web Sites:
Boltfish Recordings Label Site
City Rain MySpace

Further Listening:
Four Tet, October Man, David Newlyn, Line Noise


3 Responses to “Review: City Rain – Light Turned On”

  1. 1 Michael March 23, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I have this two Jon, Ive only listened once or twice so far and am indifferent towards it. But if you reckon it requires a few more spins then ill be delving in deeper!

    Have you heard the new Cheju album, it’s great!

  2. 2 Ben Runyan March 23, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks for the review!

    And hope you find a way to enjoy it Michael, either way thanks for listening though :-).

  3. 3 Michael March 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    aww i feel quite bad now 😦

    I havent listened anywhere near enough to this, so im not making any rash decisions 🙂

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