This album begins with an audio clip of someone speaking and it feels like we're going to be starting an instructional video. Singing comes in with different pitches but not really words. There are some slight sounds of percussion behind this and then there is also a brass section and woodwinds. Interestingly enough, if there are either guitar or bass there I cannot hear them. I mostly hear what sounds like a clarinet and then the pitter-patter of the percussion alongside I want to say a trumpet.
The automated sounding voice returns and there are strings behind it. As these laser-like notes cut through now I begin to feel the electronics in this song. At first, I could have imagined this as happening deep in the woods for some reason. There is something primitive about this but also something recluse- where I don't picture it as happening on a stage in front of an audience but more hidden away and if you should happen to stumble upon it through chance then it was meant to be.
We begin a faster paced journey now with what sounds like an oboe and the vocals come through all scrambled. A darkness as the bass drops into the orchestra in the woods. The singing returns with little bits of notes. "Thirteen rivers straight to your heart" says the audio clip. It also informs us "It is impossible to decrease one's wealth by giving" and I fully believe that. I begin to feel as if the sound is looping and that puts me into a trance. It slows down and turns into a different type of audio clip now, about buildings. We're discussing different famous old time homes and there is the sound of water behind it.
On the second track the sound comes together without the audio clips. It still makes me think that we are in the woods- at one with nature- as the vocals seem to offer no words and the cast of characters from before (woodwinds, minimal percussion, etc) come in to give it an almost magic feel as well. Though it might not be the intent, this song does make me think quite a bit about Narnia. I imagine it as being the type of music they might make there.
The third song is full of string plucks and it somewhat reminds me of the infamous tunnel scene in "Willy Wonka" in that it can feel scary in the right light. It is also worth noting that the third song- which is titled "Its Music a Form" has the words repeated which are the title of the fourth and final song, "Of Memory.. A Watershed".
Big and majestic, the singing returns on the final song now and I feel like since I have heard the sounds so much it should be a language- and if it is in a language I just do not recognize I apologize- but it sounds really pretty. As we get closer to the end, the sound slows down with bits of horns here and there, little rattles and strings and just feels like it is finally finding peace. There is almost a chanting way about this, like the singing is being used as a breathing exercise and I fully enjoy that.
I really don't read press releases and such but one thing that jumped out at me about this album right away was that the press release said it was "not for the casual listener". I find that to be an apt description because when people listen to music a lot of times they wish to do so while doing something else- they put it on in the background. "RiverChants" is not only something that people who listen to pop music might not get but it commands your full attention so that you can become caught up in it and learn from it.