The Black Ryder: The Door Behind the Door
The Black Ryder — The Door Behind the Door
Release Date: Feb. 24
Our Rating: 3.9/5
Spec Recs: “Santaria,” “Throwing Stones”
In one word: Methodical
That is the time that has passed since the Australian duo The Black Ryder released its debut album, Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride. The EMI Music Australia-Mexican Summer release was highly acclaimed and earned the former Morning After Girls members Aimee Nash and Scott Von Ryper a new base of fans.
But, life happens and some things take time. In the years following the debut, Black Ryder seemingly dropped off the radar. They signaled low — busy dealing with a move between countries, their divorce after more than a decade together, and everything in between. “Since releasing our first record we left Australia, toured America, relocated to Los Angeles, all the while trying to find our feet and get somewhat settled enough to write & produce this record. It also took some time to find the right scenario for releasing our music as well,” says Nash.
On Feb. 24, The Black Ryder put out its sophomore album, The Door Behind the Door, under Nash and Von Ryper’s own label, The Anti-Machine Machine. The Door Behind the Door is the answer to the question of how you follow up on an beloved debut that makes its way into TV shows and fashion films, is included in (Australia) Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2010” and earns your band a nomination as “Best New Artist.” It is a carefully curated production that speaks to the maturity Nash and Von Ryper have in their musicianship. A true labor of love, the album is a slow and steady burn.
Before any listener dives into the nine-track release, they should know how it came to be:
“We wanted to create music that was layered, emotive and majestic,” says Nash. “You open one door, and you find there’s another, you keep moving through each door to the next not quite sure where you’re going or what to expect, but there’s something enticing and reassuring you that you’re moving in the right direction.” “The final track listing order was very deliberate, each track would morph into something completely different,” adds Von Ryper. “The whole idea is that it is a journey where, as a track finishes, one door might lead to ascension, whereas another may be a descent.”
Strap on your shoes-gaze and take this journey. For better or worse, there is no clear climax in The Door Behind the Door. It feels as light as it does heavy with its impalpable lyrics and guitar-built wall of sound. Nash and Von Ryper take turns as lead vocalist, which adds some dimension. The duo shares vocals on a couple tracks and it’s clear that their tones are just as intriguing layered together as they are alone. There are moments that feel otherworldly — like in “Let Me Be Your Light” when Nash sings “Don’t let them take you down” and she’s followed by a ghostly background, or in the slow-churning “Seventh Moon,” which sounds like a psychedelic gospel backed by a fuzzy choir. It has a sparkly build that leaves you floating on top of instrumentation as distinct as the heavens, or at least as high.
The album seems to toss around religious themes in its lyrics and song titles, which makes for a more pensive listen. As it plays on, it becomes more and more stripped down. “Sanitaria” and “Throwing Stones” are highlights for me. In these, the music is dialed back and the vox and songwriting are pushed forward. It isn’t until about a minute into “Throwing Stones” that we hear from Nash. The song seems to be the most uplifting and energetic. It’s got soulful feel — a song that serves up lessons in life with Nash singing, “Go slow, slow down / Move on, to some higher ground / Not too late, to get through / You’ve got me, and you know I’ve got you” and “Let your love shine on, if you want to keep it together / Let your love shine on, if you want to be free.”
“(Le Dernier Sommeil) The Final Sleep” is the last song on the release that comes after 40 minutes of stepping through the other doors. It’s as textured, encompassing and full as you might expect. Without any vox on the track, the instruments sound richer than ever. It sounds like stepping into your destination and accepting its finality.