Published Mar 14, 2019Composer and multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch has spent the better part of the past decade scoring for film and releasing music under his own name. With The Dregs, Fritch returns to a sonic alter ego he hasn't formally furthered the agenda of since 2012.
An archival dive with Lost Tribe Sound label head, Ryan Keane, lead to this collection of refurbished tracks, which is described as an attempt to clarify the identity unique identity of Vieo Abiungo. Distinct stylistic quirks begin to reveal themselves right at the outset of the album.
There is a playfulness running throughout these eclectically arranged instrumental pieces that is very seldom referenced in Fritch's often sombre and soul-stirring solo work. It's partly the instrumentation, which leans more heavily on globally influenced melodic percussion and plucked string instruments, and partly the utilization of more spry tempos, but it's even more specifically the presence of a sense of humour, or a wild levity in the phrasing of these compositions.
There's almost something a bit punk in the attitude of the music, the way street folk music around the globe can feel more authentically punk-as-fuck than snarling in a faux-British accent and only playing shitty bar chords ever could. It's the freedom of intent in the way the artist attacks the music. "Takamba II" is a great example of that fearless, earthy grit in action.
The mission statement might not always be a full success — the lovely "Heaving Chest, Shallow Breaths" doesn't have much of that Abiungo flavour — but the music always is. As different as the overall musical approach of The Dregs feels, if you enjoy Fritch's other work, you'll probably also love this album. And if you've never heard his work before, do yourself a favour and jump in with this magnificent marriage of world folk and richly detailed cinematic soundscaping. (Lost Tribe Sound)