by Colin Smith
Given local band Cafe Racer’s affinity for melodic noise, ambience, and krautrock rhythms, I was excited to hear one of their members, Adam Schubert, decided to launch a solo project.
Ruins started during a brief period between moving from a relationship to another three-flat with his Cafe Racer bandmates. In turn, Schubert’s songs carry the sound of impermanence and isolation.
The songs aren’t breakup blues, though. They sound more sorrowful and lonely on a deeper level.
The self-titled EP echoes the likes of Atlas Sound, Kurt Vile, and a bit of lo-fi Elliot Smith. “Watch It Go” in particular borrows from Atlas Sound and Deerhunter with its minimal guitar playing and a tambourine washed in reverb. The record, and this song especially, uses textures masterfully.
As Schubert recorded the songs off an iPhone (“with just about every delay plug-in”), the bedroom songs have a bit of distance in the production that feeds into the record’s muddled mood.
Because of the lo-fi recording process and format, there’s also an intimacy to the songs. “Going Blind,” which features an acoustic guitar and a banjo, you can hear Schubert’s hands hitting and strumming the instruments.
At its core, the songs are still written mostly in the familiar, pop format, even if they’re masqueraded under a veil of artful noise. Still, both a strength and a weakness of the songs is the heavy use of repetition. Schubert builds a large space with minimal instruments but the atmospheric music may require a listener to be in a particular mood.
On its best moments, the songs off of the EP hit deep, emotional space. The harmonica at the end of “So Long” sounds like a one long goodbye. And it’s impressive what moods Schubert can sculpt with just a guitar, as the tracks only include two or three instruments.
Ruins’ self-titled EP is music to listen to while on the train and noticing all the people hooked to their devices.